Rule of law leads China on the way towards well-off society by 2020
By Rabi Sankar Bosu
Governing the country by law and building a socialist country under the rule of law is a fundamental principle for the Communist Party of China (CPC). Over the sixty-seven years since People's Republic of China was founded, China's legal construction has made notable achievements in promoting the rule of law by firmly taking the socialist road of the rule of law with Chinese characteristics and firmly advancing the law-based governance of the country under the strong leadership of the CPC.
Undoubtedly, the CPC leadership has led the Chinese people in making a moderately prosperous society strictly in adherence to the construction of a law-based government. China's socialist democracy is fully compatible with the rule of law which will help China to achieve its "two centenary goals" and the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation by 2020.
Legislators vote at the closing meeting of the 25th session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 25, 2016. Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, presided over the meeting.[Photo: Xinhua]
In 1949, the First Plenary Session of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) abolished old suppressive laws and passed Common Programme of the CPPCC as the temporary Constitution. On May 1, 1950, China promulgated the Marriage Law, which was the first law of New China. In 1954, during the First Session of the First National People's Congress (NPC), China adopted the first Constitution of New China, which established the principles for people's democracy and socialism, established the People's Congress system as a fundamental political system, and provided for the basic rights and obligations of Chinese citizens. With the new Constitution, New China embarked on its course of development of democracy and the legal system.
For over 67 years, the vivid practices in Chinese legislation, law enforcement, administration of justice, popularization of the law and legal publicity – all have showed the good prospect of the efforts China has made to promote the rule of law. With concerted and unremitting efforts, China had put in place a socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics, which is based on the conditions and reality of China, meets the needs of reform, opening up and the socialist modernization drive, and reflects the will of the CPC and the Chinese people.
The Constitution of China has supreme legal authority in the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics. All laws, administrative and local regulations, have been made in accordance with the Constitution, following its basic principles, and must not contravene the Constitution. The NPC and its Standing Committee have been playing a better role in supervising the Constitution's implementation. China's building the socialist legal system is a well-deserved feat in the history of human civilization.
It is worth noting that since the policy of reform and opening up adopted in 1978, China's legal construction embraced a golden time of development. A series of laws including the current Constitution were enacted. The current Constitution was promulgated by the NPC on December 4, 1982. The NPC made necessary, but also very important amendments to some provisions and part of the contents of the 1982 Constitution in 1988, 1993, 1999 and 2004 respectively.
However, during the presidency of Xi Jinping the rule of law has acquired a strategic and comprehensive importance in the Chinese economy and society. According to the document of the fourth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee held from October 20 to 23, 2014, the CPC vowed to promote the implementation, supervision and interpretation of China's Constitution with a rule of law theme.
The Fourth Plenary Session laid down major tasks needed for comprehensively advancing the rule of law. The CPC Central Committee highlighted the need to speed up the building of a law-abiding government, to ensure judicial justice, to improve the credibility of the judicial system, to promote public awareness of law, to enhance the building of a law-based society, to improve team building and to sharpen the CPC's leadership in pushing forward rule of law. It was the first time in the CPC's history that a plenary session had chosen the rule of law as its central theme.
Undoubtedly, the CPC leadership is "the most fundamental guarantee" for comprehensively advancing rule of law. Regarding the relationship between the CPC leadership and its governance according to law, a People's Daily editorial, published on October 23, 2014, said, "Adhering to the leadership of the CPC is a fundamental requirement for the rule of law drive, which is also fundamentally different from constitutionalism in the West."
Since taking over as the general secretary of the CPC and becoming president of China in November 2012 and March 2013 respectively, President Xi Jinping put forward the Chinese Dream of great rejuvenation for which the Chinese people have been striving for over a century. Comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society, deepening reform, advancing the rule of law, and strictly governing the Communist Party of China - these "Four Comprehensives" are Chinese President Xi Jinping's blueprint for China's future development proposed at the end of 2014. Later, it is noticeable that the Four Comprehensives have become the overall framework for the current leadership's work for building a moderately prosperous society.
Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, China, under the rule of law, is forging ahead with a great surging force. This great force comes from the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the core that shows great foresight and a broad strategic vision and bravely stands at the forefront of fulfilling a historical mission. President Xi said, "Our major intention for advancing the all-round law-based governance of the country and unswervingly enforcing the rule of law is to plan for future generations and for the long-term development."
It's really encouraging to see that the strategy of rule of law in an all-round manner has been thoroughly implemented and remarkable achievements have been made in legislation. The past 5- years show brilliant achievements have been made under the guidance and leadership of President Xi Jinping in promoting scientific legislation, strict law enforcement, judicial justice and observance of the law by all Chinese citizens.
Apart from the current Constitution, the NPC and its Standing Committee formulated and adopted some landmark laws on promoting the rule of law in China. Chinese lawmakers officially abolished the controversial reeducation through labor system, known as "laojiao" on December 28, 2013. The amended Administrative Procedure Law of China came into effect on 1 May 2015. China adopted the 9th Amendment to the Criminal Law, removing the death penalty for nine crimes, and ruling out commutation for most corrupt figures on August 29, 2015.
China's top legislature resolution on requiring pledge of allegiance to the Constitution took effect on January 1, 2016. In November 2016, the NPC Standing Committee issued the Interpretation of the Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) which underscores the authority of the Basic Law and the rule of law in Hong Kong.
The General Provisions of the Civil Law of China which is a significant step towards the promotion of the rule of law as a strategic vector in China's development will be enacted on October 1 this year. China's first court specializing in handling Internet-related cases opened on August 18 this year in the e-commerce hub of Hangzhou to cater to the increasing number of online disputes.
There is no doubt that all these laws and regulations are of great realistic and far-reaching historic significance of governing China by law and building a socialist country under the rule of law.
Mindful of this, in the past five years, the CPC Central Committee has formulated or revised nearly 80 Party regulations with the aim to benefit a wide range of society, including business and everyday life of ordinary people in the broader sense. It's true that the key to strict Party governance relies on a "key few" officials. Referring to leading officials at the central, provincial and local levels, in a notable speech President Xi stressed the crucial role of leading officials in promoting law-abiding behavior, "Officials who rely on common people for food and clothing should not bully them as officials themselves hail from people; Officials who should derive neither honor from their position nor dishonor from position loss are not useless as a region's prosperity depends on them."
During the term of the 18th CPC Central Committee, the Chinese government is vigorously advancing the rule of law, carrying out judicial reform, and doing its best to prevent wrongful convictions. Recent redress of at least 34 major wrong or mishandled cases, including the case of Nie Shubin, by Chinese courts have sent a clear message that the Chinese judicial system is not just concerned with respecting the due process of law, but also about making materially just decisions.
(Rabi Sankar Bosu is Secretary of New Horizon Radio Listeners' Club, based in West Bengal, India)