Laud­able progress in ad­vanc­ing rule of law

The re­forms of the past five years have helped build the ba­sic frame­work of ju­di­cial re­form.

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Views -

The Fourth Ple­nary Ses­sion of the 18th Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China in Oc­to­ber 2014 de­cided to ad­vance the rule of law in an all-round way. The de­ci­sion is re­garded as the road map for the com­pre­hen­sive ad­vance­ment of the rule of law un­der the lead­er­ship of the Party with com­rade Xi Jin­ping as its core.

The high­lights of the de­ci­sion in­clude deep­en­ing the lit­i­ga­tion sys­tem re­form with the fo­cus on tri­als, and im­ple­ment­ing the ac­count­abil­ity mech­a­nism to track cases and rec­tify er­ro­neous court ver­dicts. So the es­tab­lish­ment of cir­cuit courts and the In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Court by the Supreme Peo­ple’s Court should be seen as part of the le­gal re­form.

Be­sides, le­gal ed­u­ca­tion has been in­cluded in the na­tional ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, and pro­mo­tion of the rule of law made a yard­stick to mea­sure of­fi­cials’ po­lit­i­cal per­for­mance. Also, the State Coun­cil, China’s Cabi­net, is­sued a reg­u­la­tion in De­cem­ber 2016 that says lo­cal lead­ing of­fi­cials and Party lead­ers should be pri­mar­ily re­spon­si­ble for ad­vanc­ing the rule of law, and their per­for­mance in this re­gard should be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion for their pro­mo­tion. As a re­sult, the lo­cal lead­ing of­fi­cials and Party lead­ers are not only fo­cus­ing on GDP growth but also at­tach­ing great im­por­tance to ad­vanc­ing the rule of law.

The re­vi­sion of the Leg­is­la­tion Law in 2015, which fo­cused on the prin­ci­ple of law reser­va­tion, is a high­light of the pro­mo­tion of the rule of law. The prin­ci­ple of law reser­va­tion means only the leg­is­la­tures, not other bod­ies, can en­act laws re­lated to in­di­vid­ual rights. The re­vi­sion also strength­ens the prin­ci­ple of statu­tory tax­a­tion, and for­bids ad­min­is­tra­tive rules and reg­u­la­tions to in­fringe in­di­vid­ual rights.

The es­tab­lish­ment of the Na­tional Con­sti­tu­tion Day and a Con­sti­tu­tion oath sys­tem is also worth men­tion­ing, be­cause they will en­hance the im­por­tance of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

More­over, the re­vi­sion of Ad­min­is­tra­tive Pro­ce­dure Law, the first since it was en­acted in 1989, will make it less dif­fi­cult for cit­i­zens to sue of­fi­cials who fail to ful­fill their of­fi­cial du­ties. And the Gen­eral Pro­vi­sions of Civil Law, which will come into force on Oct 1, will start the process of en­act­ing a com­pre­hen­sive civil code. Another ma­jor le­gal re­form is the abo­li­tion of the “reed­u­ca­tion through la­bor” sys­tem.

The most sig­nif­i­cant in­sti­tu­tional re­form in China since the 18th Na­tional Party Congress is the launch­ing of the na­tional su­per­vi­sion sys­tem re­form in Novem­ber 2016, which is aimed at chang­ing the long-stand­ing ba­sic Con­sti­tu­tion sys­tem of “the gov­ern­ment and the Supreme Peo­ple’s Court as well as the Supreme Peo­ple’s Procu­ra­torate” to “the gov­ern­ment, the Supreme Peo­ple’s Court and the Supreme Peo­ple’s Procu­ra­torate, as well as a Na­tional Su­per­vi­sion Com­mit­tee”. It is the big­gest ad­min­is­tra­tive ad­just­ment aimed at strength­en­ing the su­per­vi­sion of pub­lic power.

The su­per­vi­sion sys­tem re­form mainly fo­cuses on three as­pects. First is to in­te­grate the dif­fer­ent su­per­vi­sion mech­a­nisms into a uni­fied whole. Sec­ond is to hand over the na­tional su­per­vi­sion author­ity to the Na­tional Su­per­vi­sion Com­mit­tee. And third is to es­tab­lish a spe­cial, uni­fied and au­tho­rized na­tional su­per­vi­sion or­ga­ni­za­tion, which will join hands with the Party’s dis­ci­pline in­spec­tion author­ity to jointly deal with rel­e­vant cases, in order to de­crease le­gal dis­putes over su­per­vi­sion work.

The re­forms of the past five years have helped build the ba­sic frame­work of ju­di­cial re­form. Ju­di­cial re­form mea­sures aimed at re­duc­ing lit­i­ga­tion costs, in­clud­ing a case-fil­ing sys­tem, have been in­tro­duced. As such, ju­di­cial ser­vice qual­ity, and ju­di­cial ef­fi­ciency and cred­i­bil­ity have greatly in­creased.

In par­tic­u­lar, sev­eral sig­nif­i­cant er­ro­neous court ver­dicts, such as the one against Nie Shu­bin who was ex­e­cuted af­ter be­ing con­victed of the rape and mur­der of a woman in North China’s He­bei prov­ince in 1995, have been cor­rected.

The road to the es­tab­lish­ment of a com­pre­hen­sive rule of law is long, but China has al­ready made great progress on that road.

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