The adoption of China's first Civil Code stirs emotions of pride and excitement for Jin Ping, who has spent his most passionate years in preparing for the long-expected law.
The 98-year-old law professor at Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing worked on the expert groups who attempted to draft the civil codes several times over the past 60 years.
"The civil code has been the obsession of my whole lifetime," said Jin.
On May 22, Chinese lawmakers started deliberating the draft of the Civil Code at the annual session of the 13th National People's Congress, the country's top legislature.
Jin has studied civil law his whole life. Though he did not participate in preparing this draft, many of his students did.
The Civil Code has six parts on real rights, contracts, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance, and tort liabilities, in addition to general and supplementary provisions.
As lawmakers deliberated the code in Beijing, Jin pored over the pages of the draft in his home in Chongqing.
"Many of my students are continuing the job that I didn't finish. This is specially comforting to me. I feel like I am still working for its adoption," he said.
The legislation is expected to further refine China's basic legal system and rules of conduct in the civil and commercial fields. A major innovation of China's Civil Code, jurists say, is embodied in the personality rights part, which includes provisions on a civil subject's rights to life, body, health, name, portrait, reputation and privacy, among others.
China's earlier four attempts to draft a civil code since the 1950s did not succeed due to various reasons. Jin is the last surviving expert who participated in the first three attempts to draft the code.
"It was a blessing for me to be able to see the deliberation of the civil code and its adoption. This has been the pursuit of generations of civil lawmakers," he said.
Born in 1922 in east China's Anhui Province, Jin lived through the revolutionary times. In 1945, as schools reopened after China won the war against Japanese aggression, Jin took law as his major at university.
Nine years later he became a law teacher. During that same year, the first session of the 1st National People's Congress was convened and the country's first Constitution was enacted. Jin was chosen to be one of the law experts working on drafting the civil code.
"I didn't know why a young teacher like me was chosen. But over the years I've come to realize that the Chinese leaders were aware that law-making was not easy. They were making plans and preparations in advance to train talents for future legislative needs," he said.
"Teachers from law schools, judges, and researchers joined the draft work. We did a lot of field work. For example, we went to many cities to conduct surveys for drafting the inheritance law," he said.
The newly-adopted Civil Code has systematically integrated existing civil laws and regulations, modifying them to adapt to new realities.
It has also responded to new problems such as an emergency situation like epidemic prevention and control.
"When my students called me, telling me that the draft civil code would be deliberated, I was overjoyed. But I also told them that they still have a bigger mission," he said. "The deliberation marks a good beginning but laws need to be improved and updated and the civil code should be able to better serve the people."
"It's no easy task to formulate a good law, and it's even more important to make it understood by the public and be enforced effectively," he said. "The practice of the rule of law shall never stop."