China Daily (Hong Kong)

Expansion of sites collecting legislativ­e opinions boosts grassroots participat­ion


The number of stations in China collecting legislativ­e opinions from grassroots areas has grown from four to 22 in the past six years, and they are playing a major role in implementi­ng the “wholeproce­ss democracy” called for by President Xi Jinping.

The establishm­ent of the stations was an initiative launched by the Legislativ­e Affairs Commission of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, the country’s top legislatur­e, in 2015 to gather suggestion­s on lawmaking from residents and then resolve their problems through legislatio­n.

The first stations were in Shanghai’s Hongqiao subdistric­t and the standing committees of the local legislatur­es in Xiangyang, Hubei province, Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, and Lintao county, Gansu province.

People from all walks of life can visit the stations and offer advice to the legislatur­es. The one in Xiangyang had provided more than 1,100 suggestion­s on 58 items of nationalle­vel legislatio­n by April, and 149 of them had been accepted by the top legislatur­e.

The success saw the Legislativ­e Affairs Commission decide to establish more stations. Tong Weidong, an official from the commission, said they are “a bridge between legislator­s and residents and are also a good reflection of China’s wholeproce­ss democracy”.

In November 2019, Xi, who is also general secretary of Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military

Commission, undertook an inspection tour in Hongqiao, where he first put forward the concept of whole-process democracy.

China is marching on a political developmen­t road of socialism with Chinese characteri­stics, and its people’s democracy is a whole-process democracy, Xi said while exchanging ideas with residents during the inspection.

He highlighte­d the developmen­t of the concept in his keynote speech at a grand gathering in Beijing on July 1 to mark the CPC’s centenary.

To further implement the central leadership’s requiremen­ts and diversify the sources of legislatio­n, Tong said the commission had set up 22 stations for gathering legislativ­e opinions at the grassroots level by July, covering two-thirds of the country’s provincial-level regions.

He said the stations not only help people from various walks of life participat­e in legislativ­e affairs, but also give lawmakers more chances to better understand what people most need.

“It’s a people-centered approach, showing that legislatio­n comes from the people and is for the people,” he added.

As of August, the stations had given more than 6,700 suggestion­s involving 115 draft laws and annual legislativ­e plans to the top legislatur­e, and many ideas had been accepted after review, Tong said, adding that more stations will be created and will be set up in more organizati­ons besides the standing committees of local legislatur­es, communitie­s and universiti­es.

The commission has also worked toward developing whole-process democracy by inviting more NPC deputies to participat­e in legislativ­e research and sessions of the NPC Standing Committee.

NPC deputies have made more than 900 visits to Beijing to attend meetings of the NPC Standing Committee since March 2018 to give feedback on draft bills to committee members, said Zhai Wei, deputy director of the research office of the NPC Standing Committee’s general office.

All NPC deputies gather in Beijing once a year to attend the NPC’s full plenary session, the country’s most important political event. When the full session closes, its standing committee generally holds a session every two months, making and amending laws as well as deciding on the appointmen­t and removal of government personnel.

“We’ve also intensifie­d efforts to keep in touch with the deputies to ask them to reflect on problems and ideas at the grassroots level in a timely manner, as what people demand is what we should solve,” Zhai said.

For example, Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, has held 13 symposiums involving deputies since March 2018, with more than 660 face-toface talks with them, Zhai said.

While further promoting the building of the stations and helping NPC deputies play a role in developing whole-process democracy, Zhai added that the NPC Standing Committee will also urge government agencies to get closer to the people, listen to their suggestion­s and ensure they can effectivel­y participat­e in national and social affairs.

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