VIEW | LI YANG Economy needs the rule of law
The Fourth Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of Communist Party of China reviewed the road map to the rule of law with Chinese characteristics last week in Beijing. Implementing the rule of law is now a priority of the Party.
The Party wants to bring legal order to the society, the market and the government through laws implemented by independent and professional judicial authorities.
China cannot sustain its economic growth without economic transformation, which entails transformation of its governance model from rule of power to rule of law. The Party regards the improvement of people’s livelihoods and continuous economic growth as the legal base of its rule. So the pursuit of rule of law is a must for the Party itself.
The society anticipates fairness and justice from the rule of law. The people receiving unfair treatment from local governments need not appeal to a higher authority but to local courts to address official malpractice.
Primary and middle schools will strengthen the teaching of rule of law to increase young people’s legal knowledge and improve their legal consciousness.
Markets expect a healthy business environment with fewer interventions, less red tape from the government and fewer monopolies by State-owned financial agencies and enterprises. Industrial policies and regulations should be made under a legal framework with collective wisdom from all relevant parties, rather than only government officials. The government should serve the market, but not the other way round.
The judicial departments must enjoy independence and see less meddling from those with power and money. Without judicial justice and equality, the rule of law will continue to be empty talk.
The Par ty decided the provincial authority directly administers the city and county courts to avoid local government intervention. Jurors are no longer selected from courts and governments but by the society to ensure the fairness of trials.
The lawmakers should let the people feel they are speaking for them as the top State power organ, as it is written in China’s constitution, rather than as spokespeople of the vested interests, as it is in many cases.
The government and the Party are central to the success of rule of law. The Party stresses the constitution’s authority before explaining its plan on implementing the rule of law. The Party’s leadership must be ensured, and any actions infringing upon the constitution must be called to account.
Government reform featuring increasing transparency, establishing a lifelong accountability system for big decisions, delegating power to the society and the market, cutting red tape and practicing the “negative list” model to mark borders of power are in line with the requirements of rule of law.
A previously vague area that was clarified in this conference is the relationship between the Party and the law. The conference statement clarifies that officials must not make their words superior to laws; use their power to suppress laws; or bend the laws for personal gain. The working procedures of the Party must be in line with laws. The Party rules are higher requirements for the Party members, who should be law-abiding citizens in the first place.
The anti- corruption campaign initiated by the President Xi Jinping reflects Party leaders’ commitment to the law.
China may be the poorest world’s second-largest economy in recent history. China’s per capita gross domestic product was $6,747, ranked 81st among 200 countries and regions last year, much lower than the world average of $10,486, according to the latest report of the International Monetary Fund.
Implementing the rule of law will reset many power and interest relationships among different groups in a stratified society.
If the rule of law road map, which attempts to clarify the relationship among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, can be carried out well, it will serve to lubricate social frictions and ease tensions.
A new set of game rules can add vitality to the society and market and allow the government to focus on serving the people.