Local television should broadcast an English-language legal program to make foreign residents more aware of Chinese law, a partner from a local law firm proposed Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Shanghai People's Congress.
"If Shanghai wants to become an international finance and shipping center, it is indispensable to establish the authority of law as the number of legal disputes involving foreign parties is expected to increase," said Wu Jian, a partner at the Duan & Duan Law Firm.
Wu made his proposal after Ying Yong, president of the Shanghai Higher People's Court, delivered a working report at the meeting.
From 2008 to 2012, local courts have ruled on 6,303 civil cases involving at least one party from Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan, an increase of nearly 51 percent compared with the previous five years, Ying said in his report.
Shanghai's courts have handled more than 700 civil and commercial disputes involving foreign parties in 2012, said Zhang Guanqun, a press officer from the Shanghai Higher People's Court. However, the figure does not include the maritime and financial cases that the courts handled last year.
Zhang said the city's court system took some measures to promote Chinese law, especially intellectual property protection, and have English web pages. However, they did not pay special attention to differentiate their audience when trying to spread knowledge about other Chinese laws.
"It is better to speak the language of others when trying to publicize the legal knowledge, otherwise it is ineffective. Many foreigners who seek legal help from me know little about the laws in China," Wu told the Global Times.
Wu thought the problem is caused by insufficient promotion of Chinese law among the foreigners in the city. "There is much room to improve in this area, though the city has achieved a lot in legislative work," he said.
There were more than 173,000 foreign residents living in Shanghai at the end of 2012.
"Besides, the only English channel of local television station has too many entertainment programs. Maybe they can think about taking the lead to produce the first English legal program in China," Wu said.