VIEW | LI YANG Econ­omy needs the rule of law

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

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.

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