Chinese courts will be open regularly to foreigners, enabling them to listen to cases and share opinions on judicial work, the president of the nation's top court promised on Wednesday
The Supreme People's Court feels it is important to communicate with foreign countries on judicial affairs, said Zhou Qiang.
Speaking at a court open day attended by ambassadors and officials from 20 countries and regions, Zhou said the court also considers it important to conduct foreign-related work under agreements and contracts, including identifying foreign judgments and arbitration.
"We've realised the need to invite ambassadors and foreign professionals when we tackle foreign-related disputes and provide legal aid for foreign litigants," Zhou said, adding that this is also necessary to improve Chinese judicial work and develop international legal cooperation.
"The open day is a start, and similar activities will follow. More foreigners will be allowed to visit our court and listen to trials and cases involving foreign companies or citizens," he said.
The foreign guests, which included those from France and India, sat in on an intellectual property dispute between a German sanitary appliance company and a Chinese firm.
They then had a guided tour of the court building, on which they learned about judges' work and had discussions with Zhou.
He asked grassroots courts to also open their doors to foreigners, adding that the top court will supervise local judicial bodies in enforcing verdicts involving foreigners or foreign corporations.
"Equal legal protection is a principle of Chinese law, and we'll ensure every judgment in our country can be carried out," Zhou said.
Juan-Miguel Miranda, charge d'affaires at the Peruvian embassy in Beijing, said such visits can help him to understand Chinese laws and "hot" issues.
"This is good for reaching deeper agreements on judicial work between the two countries and also for friendly relations," he said.
"It was the first time I had visited a Chinese court. I now know how the court deals with a case and how judges work, and I'd like to come back if I get a chance. I'll share the experience and the case with my friends and suggest that they have an understanding of Chinese laws if they have business here."
Garcia Bires, the Angolan ambassador, also welcomed the visit, saying it will help to boost judicial work between the two countries.
He said he had visited many countries, but not all of them are willing to open their courts' doors.
Nurlan Yermekbayev, Kazakhstan's ambassador, said the case they listened to reflects China's efforts to protect intellectual property rights. He hopes that legal cooperation between the two countries will be developed like trade collaboration.
Sun Jungong, the top court's spokesman, said it is not the first time the court has invited foreigners to witness cases, but it is rare for such a high-level judicial department to open its inner workings to so many foreigners.
Sun said the court is still assessing how often such visits will be held and ways in which to develop the open days.
The Supreme People's Court has issued its work report and some judicial interpretations in both Chinese and English since last year.
"We're also training judicial officers, with the aim of providing legal services in different languages on our websites, and this is a great challenge for us," Sun added.
Li Haibin, head of the international education department at Renmin University of China, said court open days should be held regularly and suggested that Chinese courts should quickly solve problems raised by foreigners.