China's Supreme People's Procuratorate has removed 140 outmoded interpretations of the law in order to modernise the legal system. Over the past four months the Procuratorate has examined 781 legal interpretations and weighed their application to current times, according to Xinhua. Many of these documents were appended to the law in October 1949 as exegetical comments used to help in adjudication. The earliest came into force in 1957 and the most recent was in 1999. Some of the documents directly contradicted newer laws, or, in some cases, dealt with situations that no longer applied, according to Zhang Jiong, the Procuratorate's vice-president. One example Mr Zhang gave was of a clause that set down penalties for scalping (profiteering from) airline tickets and one on tracking down profits gained from speculation. These were said to be no longer practical because a Criminal Law amendment removed the crime of 'speculation''. In the past (under a planned economy), air tickets were not allowed to be sold with discounts as they are today. To get around this some privileged people tried to make money by re-selling the tickets they got from special 'guanxi'' (connections). That was called 'speculation'' or 'profiteering'', and was referred to as 'speculation crime'' before the 1990s. But the crime was removed in the amended Criminal Law that came into force in October 1997. In the latest changes, the Procuratorate also provided new interpretations to replace older ones. For example, it dropped an older exegesis on bribery and embezzlement because it had already been incorporated in a new document issued in December 2000. The Procuratorate also removed interpretations of cases involving crimes that were no longer under its jurisdiction. One example was a Provisional Regulation on Fake Trademark Cases, which carried no weight because fake trademark cases are now referred to the Industry and Commerce Administration, Mr Zhang said. The Procuratorate's action was praised for being 'suited to the changing world'', by Gu Liaohai, director of the Beijing Liaohai Law Firm. 'China should follow the trends of the times and check the existing legal documents since it has become a member of the World Trade Organisation. It should eliminate those that go against the WTO's rules on ensuring openness and transparency,'' he said. It was unfortunate that many laws and regulations had to be amended only a year or two after they are promulgated, Mr Gu added, because Chinese legislators lacked vision and the ability to 'forecast scientifically'. 'The frequent changes in legal documents have left many who need legal assistance at a loss,'' he added. Mr Gu said that incidents of financial chicanery, money laundering, intellectual property rights infringement, and similar crimes would increase as China gained exposure to the outside world. New forms of embezzlement, extortion, and bribery could also be expected. He concluded that the Procuratorate would need to continue its work on more interpretations and provide more suggestions to legislators. However he hoped there would be a stable period for several years since such a great effort had been made to modify these legal documents. China has eliminated or revised 1,150 laws, administrative decisions, regulations, or other policy rulings since the end of 1999 - many of them related to foreign trade or the WTO.