Judicial protection of private enterprises and entrepreneurs will be enhanced in accordance with the law to offer them more sense of security and prevent civil economic disputes from being solved by criminal penalties, a senior judge has said.
Infringements of the legitimate rights of private enterprises and entrepreneurs will be resolutely punished, while their legitimate operations will be resolutely protected according to the law, Jiang Bixin, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, said in a recent interview.
President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, said earlier this month that the country will unswervingly encourage, support and guide the development of the nonpublic sector and support private enterprises.
He demanded the implementation of policies and measures in six aspects to create a better environment for the development of private enterprises, including better ensuring entrepreneurs' personal and property safety.
"For some irregularities in the history of some private enterprises, (we) should see the problem in the light of the development and follow the principle of 'crimes and punishment stipulated by law' and the principle of 'innocent until proved guilty', so that entrepreneurs can unload their mental burden and move on," Xi said.
"I've stressed several times that a number of wrongful cases in which the legitimate property rights of enterprises were infringed upon should be reviewed and rectified. Recently, the courts have retried several typical cases and received warm response from the public," Xi said.
Jiang said private enterprises, State-owned enterprises, small enterprises and large enterprises will all be given the same treatment and protected equally.
Excuses such as loss of State-owned assets and maintenance of public interest must not be used to disregard the legitimate demands of private enterprises and entrepreneurs and to infringe upon their legitimate rights, he added.
Jiang said a small number of people intend to use minor offenses to deliver vital blows to private enterprises or blackmail them, and this should be prevented.
"It should be cautioned that a small number of people intend to entrap private enterprises and entrepreneurs via fake and malicious litigation," he added.
Jiang also emphasized that judicial departments must strictly and accurately distinguish economic disputes from economic crimes, and should not criminally penalize private entrepreneurs if their innovations in fundraising, operations or production do not breach criminal laws.
He said a new judicial interpretation to prevent courts from handling civil economic disputes through criminal punishments is being drafted, and a new group of such typical cases will be released soon to offer local courts specific guidance.
Protecting property rights and private economy has been a major task for the top court in recent years. In 2016, the top court set up a special team to review suspected wrongful property-related cases, and a year later, it decided to retry three high-profile cases concerning property.
Zhang Wenzhong, former chairman of retail company Wumei Holdings, was acquitted of fraud, bribery and embezzlement charges during one of the retrials. The retrials of two other cases, one involving Gu Chujun, former chairman of refrigerator maker Guangdong Kelon Electrical Holdings, and the other involving Jiangsu Muyang Co Ltd, are underway.
The retrials of these three cases "are conducive to strengthening a sense of personal safety and property security for entrepreneurs and their confidence in entrepreneurship", Jiang said.
Xinhua contributed to this story.
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