Rule of law, safeguard for economic growth, stability
By Kimeng Hilton Ndukong
All attention in China is now focused on next month's 19th Communist Party of China, CPC National Congress. As China's top political leadership meets, one of the topics to be certainly given great attention is the rule of law.
The 18th CPC Congress in 2012, which saw Xi Jinping become General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, resolved to reinforce the rule of law. In a fast-evolving world where business edge is the norm, there is no gainsaying that the rule of law not only attracts and assures foreign investors, but also improves the country's political standing. Just like it boosts the confidence of other foreigners – be they tourists, permanent residents or other short-term visitors.
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a youth league activity with students of Civil, Commercial and Economic Law School while inspecting China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, capital of China, May 3, 2017.[Photo: Xinhua]
Proper enforcement of the law tackles crime, indiscipline, graft and ensures development and progress of the nation. It also assures the protection of civil liberties, thereby contributing to the enhancement of China's image as the country continues to open up to the outside world. Without the rule of law backed by continuous reforms, China cannot maintain its current momentum of economic growth and rising political clout on the global scene.
"To comprehensively advance the rule of law will lay a solid foundation for the country's lasting stability and peace, and help achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," President Xi Jinping said in October 2014 at the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee.
The plenary was the first of its kind to feature the rule of law as a major topic, after which improvements to the legal system went into full swing. A strategic blueprint for advancing the rule of law by President Xi entails creating a moderately prosperous society in all respects, deepening reforms and strengthening CPC governance.
Ever since, the strategy of implementing the rule of law in an all-round manner has been thoroughly carried out with remarkable achievements in new legislation, top legislator Zhang Dejiang commented earlier this year. Legislators should have strong confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, he counseled. According to him, lawmakers should uphold the Party's leadership in the process of legislation and ensure that each law complies with the spirit of the Constitution.
President Xi Jinping on May 3, 2017 called for more efforts in promoting the rule of law and ensuring proper legal training. While on a visit to the China University of Political Science and Law, Beijing, Xi called on the country's law schools to enhance research in the rule of law and related areas.
At 96, the Communist Party of China is mature enough to continue to provide visionary Socialist leadership with domestic characteristics to guide the country to greater heights. As the 19th CPC National Congress draws near, the question many observers are asking is how far China has progressed since the last national congress in 2012. State broadcaster, CCTV, last month aired an awareness documentary on achievements in ensuring the rule of law.
The CPC Central Committee has formulated or revised intra-Party regulations and taken Party rules and discipline seriously over the past years as guarantee for building a Socialist country based on the rule of law.
The result has been the high-profile anti-corruption campaign which has led to the downfall of some senior officials. Among the so-called "tigers" affected by the anti-graft drive were Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee; Bo Xilai, former Party chief of Chongqing Municipality, and Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong, both former generals and vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission. Ling Jihua and Su Rong, former vice chairmen of China's top political advisory body were also axed.
In November 2016, the NPC Standing Committee issued the Interpretation of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. This followed disagreements over the provisions of Hong Kong's Basic Law, which affected the implementation of the "One country, two systems" principle. The interpretation underscores the authority of the Basic Law and the rule of law in Hong Kong.
On the other hand, the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law was revised in 2015, adding a new chapter on smog affected days and establishing a monitoring and early warning system for heavily-polluted days. Meanwhile, re-education through labor was abolished in 2013 to protect human rights.
By June 2017, the 12th National People's Congress, NPC, and its standing committee had formulated 20 laws and passed 39 decisions to revise 100 laws. Earlier in 2014, the Party central leadership decided to compile the General Provisions of the Civil Law as the first step in developing the Civil Code. The law, a key move in building a moderately prosperous China by 2020, aims to regulate civil activities and modernize State governance. General Provisions were adopted at the fifth annual session of the 12th NPC earlier this year and will be enacted on October 1, 2017.
In order to avoid wrongful convictions and improve the credibility of the judiciary, judges will henceforth assume life-long responsibility for the cases they handle and will be held accountable for any miscarriages of justice. The measures were outlined at the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee. Moreover, the CPC Central Committee has in the last five years issued or revised nearly 80 Party regulations, accounting for more than 40 per cent of existing regulations.
The ongoing measures strongly suggest that China is on track not only to enhance economic and political transparency, but also to see significant improvements in judicial and legal processes. The aim, no doubt, is to boost the people's confidence in their institutions and the country's foreign image.
(Kimeng Hilton Ndukong, an Opinion Writer for China Radio International, is Sub-Editor for World News with Cameroon Tribune bilingual daily newspaper in Cameroon. He is currently a 2017 China-Africa Press Centre, CAPC fellow.)