The Socialist Legal System with Chinese Characteristics

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2011-09-20 17:18
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 I. The major significance of the formation of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics

 Developing socialist democracy and improving the socialist legal system comprise an important strategic task in building socialism with Chinese characteristics. Since the founding of New China, and especially during the past 30-plus years of reform and opening up, China’s legislative work has made tremendous achievements under the correct leadership of the CPC thanks to the tireless and concerted efforts of all concerned. These achievements have attracted the attention of the world. The current version of the Constitution was passed in 1982. Since then, revisions have been made four times to certain provisions of the Constitution to adapt to developments in the objective situation. As of the end of 2010, China had put 236 laws, over 690 administrative regulations and over 8,600 local regulations into effect as well as completed a thorough review of all current laws, administrative regulations and local regulations. There are now legal branches covering all aspects of relationships in society. Basic and major laws have been formulated for all legal branches, and corresponding administrative regulations and local regulations are fairly comprehensive. Overall, the contents of the legal system are both scientific and in harmony. A socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics has now been formed. This system is rooted in the conditions and realities of China, meets the needs of the reform and opening up drive and socialist modernization and is a concentrated expression of the will of the Party and the people. The backbone of the system is comprised of several branches of laws, including laws related to the Constitution, civil law and commercial law, all under the authority of the Constitution. The system is composed of the three layers of laws, administrative regulations, and local regulations. There are laws governing all aspects of national economic development, political development, cultural development, social development and ecological protection and improvement. This is an important milestone in the history of the development of China’s socialist democracy and legal system with major practical significance and far-reaching historical significance.

 First, the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics is the legal basis for maintaining the character of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The basic conclusion drawn by the CPC from historical experience is that we must adapt the basic theories of Marxism to specific conditions in China, follow our own path and build socialism with Chinese characteristics. This is also the only correct path for the development and progress of the country. The most important thing in following the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is to maintain a correct political orientation and to not waver on major theoretical issues such as those related to the country’s basic system. If we were to waver, not only would modernization not be possible, but the development achievements we have made would be lost as well and the country could even be thrown into chaos. The socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, in the form of the Constitution and the law, confirms the country’s basic system and basic tasks, confirms the leading position of the CPC, confirms the guiding position of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents, confirms the state system of the people’s democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants, confirms the government system of the people’s congresses, confirms that all power in the state belongs to the people and that citizens enjoy a wide range of rights and freedoms in accordance with the law, confirms the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, the system of regional ethnic autonomy and the system of autonomy at the local level and confirms the basic economic system in which the public sector is dominant and the public and non-public sectors develop side by side and the system under which distribution according to work is dominant and various forms of distribution exist side by side. Considering conditions in China, it is clear that we cannot practice a system of multiple parties taking turns in power, follow a diverse array of guiding ideologies, practice a system of “checks and balances” and bicameral parliament or congress, or engage in federalism or privatization. The formation of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics has strengthened the legal basis that is making the country prosperous and ensuring long-term stability and peace. From an institutional and legal standpoint, it confirms that the CPC is at the core of the leadership of the socialist cause with Chinese characteristics, confirms that all the power of the state is firmly in the hands of the people, confirms the country’s national independence and the integrity of the nation’s sovereignty and territory, confirms the unity of the country, the stability of society and the great unity of all ethnic groups in the country, confirms the practice of an independent foreign policy of peace and pursuit of peaceful development and confirms that the country will always follow the correct orientation of socialism with Chinese characteristics as it bravely moves forward.

 Second, the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics is the legal expression of innovative practice of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The decision made by all the ethnic groups of the country under the leadership of the CPC to implement a policy of reform and opening up was crucial to the fate of contemporary China as well as an essential path for developing socialism with Chinese characteristics and realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation that has injected fresh vitality into socialism. Over the last 30-plus years we have always made economic development our central task and fully promoted reform and opening up, successfully carrying out a great historical transformation from a highly concentrated planned economic system to a fully dynamic socialist market economic system and from a closed or semi-closed country to a country that is open on all fronts. This has greatly motivated many people in the country and greatly liberated and developed the productive forces of the country, resulting in a consistently rapid development seldom seen in the whole world. As we have gained experience in implementing the reform and opening up policy and carrying out modernization, we have promptly put the lessons learned into law. To keep up with the times and to address new situations and new issues in reform and opening up, we have formulated new legislation and improved existing laws and regulations in order to transform the pattern of economic development, promote administration in accordance with the law and fair justice, promote social development focusing on ensuring the well-being and improving the lives of the people, promote the thriving development of socialist culture and promote harmony between man and nature. In this way we are giving full play to the standardizing, guiding, guaranteeing and promoting role of the law. The formation of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics ensures through institutional and legal means the country always maintains the correct orientation of reform and opening up, focusing on building highly dynamic, highly efficient and more open institutions and mechanisms that are conducive to scientific development and promoting constant self-improvement and development of the country’s socialist system.

 Third, the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics is the legal guarantee for the thriving development of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Modernization has been the dream, aspiration and ceaseless goal for generations of Chinese people. In the 30-plus years since the introduction of the reform and opening up policy, we have been developing the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, forming the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics. This has been a fundamental factor in all our achievements and progress. We have always held high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, which has allowed us to be fearless in the face of any danger and undisturbed by any interference. We are actively and persistently pursuing development and wholeheartedly promoting development so that by the year 2010, the many people in China will be living an even more comfortable and prosperous life, and by the middle of the century we will basically reach our goals for modernization. The achievements we have already made in development would not have been possible without legal guarantees and our efforts to bring about an even better tomorrow will not be possible without those same guarantees. The formation of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics puts all the development efforts of the country on a legal footing. Through institutional and legal means, the system has solved fundamental and lasting issues in the country’s development as well as issues of overall interests and stability. It has set a clear value orientation, development orientation and basic route for the constant improvement of the socialist market economy, the thorough development of socialist democracy, the constant flourishing of advanced socialist culture and the thriving developing of harmonious socialist society. It has laid a firm legal foundation for building a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious modern socialist country and realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

 Development of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics is a major achievement of the CPC in leading the many people of the country in developing socialist democracy and improving the socialist legal system. The first generation of Party leadership with Comrade Mao Zedong at the core led all the ethnic groups of the country through a long period of bloody war to establish the People’s Republic of China and formulated the Common Program of the CPPCC and the first Constitution for New China, thereby establishing the country’s basic system. This established the fundamental political  prerequisites and institutional foundation for developing the socialist democratic legal system and the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics. The second generation of Party leadership with Comrade Deng Xiaoping at the core made a penetrating review of the painful lessons learned from the “Cultural Revolution” and made the historic decision to shift the focus of the work of the Party and government to economic development and institute the reform and opening up policy. In addition, they established the firm principle of strengthening efforts to build the socialist democratic legal system, stressing the absolute necessity of putting socialist democracy on an institutional and legal foundation so that the institutions and laws do not change with a change in leadership or because leaders change their opinions or shift their focus. They made sure there were laws to cover all situations, that the law was obeyed, that law enforcement was strict and that illegal acts were punished, opening the door to a new era in which the socialist democratic legal system experienced dynamic development. The third generation of Party leadership with Comrade Jiang Zemin at the core led the whole Party and all the ethnic groups of the country in successfully bringing the reform and opening up policy into the 21st century, constantly enriched and developed the ideology for building the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics and for the first time confirmed the rule of law as a basic principle for the Party in leading the people in governing the country. They made the development of China into a country under the socialist rule of law an important part of socialist modernization and defined the 2010 goal for legislative work to complete the formation of socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, opening a new stage in the development of socialist democracy and the legal system. Since the Sixteenth National Party Congress, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as General Secretary has been keeping up with the times and unwaveringly carrying forward the great cause of the reform and opening up policy while working to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects. They introduced the major strategic concept of the Scientific Outlook on Development and the major strategic task of building a harmonious socialist society, thoroughly applied the basic principle of ruling the country in accordance with the law and emphasized that the integration of the leadership of the Party, the position of the people as masters of the country and rule of the country by law is fundamental to the effort to develop socialist democracy. This opened up new possibilities for the building of the socialist democracy and the legal system.

 Formation of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics is the result of the concerted effort of all sides over a long period of time. The National People’s Congress (NPC) and its Standing Committee performed their responsibilities mandated by the Constitution and the law to constantly strengthen and improve legislative work and to improve the quality of legislation, carrying out a great deal of excellent, effective work to develop the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics. The State Council formulated administrative regulations as needed in accordance with the law to meet the needs of economic and social development and implementation of the law and local people’s congresses and their standing committees took into consideration local conditions and formulated many local regulations in accordance with the law. They made major contributions to the formation of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics. Local governments at all levels, all levels of people’s courts, people’s procuratorates and the army, as well as the people and experts and scholars strongly supported and actively participated in legislative work, contributing their wisdom and strength to the building of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics. 

 II. Careful review of experience gained in forming the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics

 The Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee, in view of the pressing need to develop socialist democracy and perfect the socialist legal system, clearly called on the National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee to give legislative work a high priority on its agenda. Following this, legislative activity in the country recovered and accelerated. The Fifteenth National Party Congress, from the high strategic perspective of governing the country in accordance with the law and making China a socialist country ruled by law, clearly defined the 2010 goal for legislative work to complete the formation of socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics. The Seventeenth National Party Congress stressed the need to make legislation scientific and democratic, improve the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, unwaveringly develop socialist democracy and introduced new requirements for legislative work in the new period. Over the past 30-plus years of reform and opening up, we have successfully followed a legislative path with Chinese characteristics under the leadership of the CPC. We continued to practice an organic integration of the leadership of the Party, the position of the people as masters of the country and the rule of law and carried out legislative work in a planned and step-by-step manner, giving priority to focal points and centering on the overall concerns of the Party and government, forming the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics in just a few decades. The world has seldom seen such heavy legislative tasks and the huge amount of difficulties that had to be overcome is unprecedented. The achievements were hard won and the experience gained is very valuable. Five lessons learned from this experience are the most important.

 One is the need to maintain the leadership of the Party. The CPC is the core of the leadership for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The leadership of the Party is the fundamental guarantee for maintaining the people as masters of the country and the rule of law as well as a fundamental guarantee for continued improvement in democracy and the legal system and successful legislative work. The Party’s leadership mainly covers politics, ideology and organization. The Party exercises leadership over the country and society by formulating major principles and policies, introducing proposals for legislation, recommending personnel for important cadre positions, carrying out ideological work, making good use of the role of Party organizations and Party members and ensuring administration of state affairs in accordance with the law. The CPC represents the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people, and the major principles and policies formulated and legislative proposals introduced by the Party are a crystallization of the wisdom of the entire Party and the whole country and represent the common desire of the overwhelming majority of the people. The Party’s leadership is entirely synonymous with serving the interests of the people. We always maintain the Party’s leadership over legislative work, through the legislative process making the stands of the Party the will of the state and the standards and norms for society as a whole to follow. This ensures that the line, principles and policies of the Party are implemented and ensures that the reform and opening up policy and socialist modernization are smoothly carried out through institutions and laws. We take the central tasks of the Party and state into close consideration in planning legislative work, scientifically formulate schemes and plans for legislative work and actively promote key legislative items, ensuring that the major decisions of the Party and state are implemented. We promptly launch the legislative procedure for the legislative proposals of the Party Central Committee, resolutely implement the intent of the Central Committee and fully carry out the political tasks assigned by the Central Committee. Crucial and difficult issues encountered in the legislative process are reported to the Party Central Committee. In summary, all laws and regulations are formulated under the leadership of the Party and all the laws and regulations we formulate must help strengthen and improve Party leadership, help consolidate and improve the governing position of the Party and help ensure that the Party leads the people in effectively governing the affairs of state.

 Two is maintaining the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics as our guide. Laws are Party’s line, principles and policies that have proven correct and mature and need to be implemented for a long time, put in the form of institutions, norms and procedures. Maintaining a correct guiding ideology is a fundamental prerequisite for strengthening democracy and the legal system and carrying out successful legislative work. The theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics is a scientific theoretical system that includes the major strategic concepts of Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of Three Represents and the Scientific Outlook on Development. It represents the latest achievement in adapting Marxism to conditions in China, the Party’s most valuable political and spiritual treasure, the common ideological basis for the concerted struggle of all the ethnic groups of the country, the guiding ideology that we must follow for a long time to come and the basic guide for successfully carrying out all our work. We always follow the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics in legislative work and use it to reach ideological consensus and confirm the thinking for legislation. With regard to the guiding ideology for legislation, we always combine the four Cardinal Principles with reform and opening up, combine the basic system of socialism with the development of the market economy, combine efforts to transform the economic base with efforts to reform the superstructure, combine efforts to improve performance with efforts to make society fairer, combine reform and development with efforts to maintain social stability and combine independence with participation in economic globalization, in order to ensure that the laws and regulations we formulate help to consolidate and improve the socialist system, help to liberate and develop the productive forces of society and help to give full play to the advantages of the socialist system.

 Three is to first of all take into consideration the conditions and realities in China. The law is part of the superstructure and is determined by the economic base and serves the economic base. First of all taking into consideration the conditions and realities in China is an objective requirement for strengthening democracy and the legal system and carrying out successful legislative work. China will remain in the primary stage of socialism for a long time to come. The reform and opening up policy and socialist modernization are carried out against a background of a large population and weak foundation. As modernization efforts are deepened, new characteristics are emerging in the economy and society in each stage. We must not only work hard to resolve the long-term deep-rooted issues and problems accumulated over time, but also appropriately address the new situations and issues facing development. The task of balancing reform, development and stability is extremely complex and heavy as well as difficult and huge. We always first of all take into consideration the conditions and realities in China in legislative work and take the great experience of implementing the reform and opening up policy and carrying out socialist modernization as the basis for legislation, focusing on the central task of economic development, the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the need to promote scientific development and promote social harmony in carrying out legislative work. We take care to correctly balance reform, development and stability, appropriately balance the stability of the law and the changeability of the actual situation, appropriately balance the proactive nature of the law and enforceability of the law and ensure that progress in legislation is in line with implementation of the reform and opening up policy and socialist modernization. For situations where experience is fairly mature and there is a fairly good consensus among all quarters, regulations need to be formulated more specific to strengthen the practicability of the law. For situations where experience is not yet mature enough but legal norms are necessary, regulations must first be based more on principle, so that standards and guarantees would be provided to guide actual practice and some leeway would be left to deepen reform while waiting for conditions to mature after which the law can be revised or emended. For new situations and issues that arise in reform and opening that cannot be standardized because conditions are not yet ripe, we first formulate administrative regulations and local regulations within the limits allowed by the law. When we have gained experience with implementing these administrative and local regulations and conditions are ripe, we then formulate a national law. We also take care to study and learn from the legislative experience of other countries to take in things that are beneficial and useful but we never simply copy them. The legal system of each country is different. We do not use the legal systems of certain Western countries to cover the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics. Some laws of foreign legal systems that are not compatible with the conditions and realities of this country we do not use. Some laws that foreign legal systems do not have, but China actually needs, we promptly formulate.

 Four is to always put people first and formulate laws for the people. Expressing the common will of the people, ensuring that the people are masters of the country and safeguarding the basic interests of the people are a proper obligation of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics. Always putting people first and formulating laws for the people constitute the basic purpose of strengthening democracy and the legal system and successful legislative work. We always take the realization, safeguarding and development of the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people as the purpose and eventual outcome of legislative work. Both in the legislative process and in the legal norms, we always put people first, respect the subjective role of the people and respect the creative spirit of the people, drawing wisdom from their experience and creativity and receiving inspiration from their development demands. We must correctly balance the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people, the common interests of the people in this current stage and the varying special interests of different groups, correctly reflect and balance the interests of different groups in society, and work to resolve the practical interest issues of most immediate concern to the people. We must correctly balance powers and rights as well as powers and responsibilities. In other words, while granting administrative bodies, judicial organs and procuratorates the necessary powers, we must ensure adequate standardization, restraints and oversight for the exercise of those powers in order to truly safeguard the legal rights and interests of individual citizens, legal persons and organizations. We must always follow the mass line, ensure that legislation is scientific and democratic, constantly expand the orderly participation of citizens in the legislative process and give full play to the role of the deputies to the people’s congresses in the legislative process. We must extensively solicit comments from all quarters, especially at the grassroots level, by publicizing draft laws and regulations and holding seminars, discussion meetings and hearings. We need to gather opinions from all sectors of society to form a consensus so that the laws and regulations we formulate fully reflect the common interests and desires of the people to strengthen the popular base for implementing them.

 Five is to ensure the uniformity of the socialist legal system. Ensuring the uniformity of the socialist legal system is an inherent requirement for effectively developing democracy and the legal system and carrying out successful legislative work. China is a unified, multi-ethnic and unitary state. Ensuring the uniformity of the socialist legal system safeguards the unity of the country, the solidarity of all the ethnic groups in the country and the stability of society and is the basis for building a uniform modern market system. In addition, China occupies a vast territory with great differences between regions in economic, cultural and social development and the country is now in the midst of profound changes. These are the basic conditions of China that determine that China must have a legal system that is uniform across the country and has different levels. The National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee have exclusive power to pass national laws, but the State Council has the authority to formulate administrative regulations and provincial level people’s congresses and their standing committees and the people’s congresses of large cities and their standing committees have the authority to pass local legislation. In addition, the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) have the authority to formulate legislation for those zones and ethnic minority regions have the authority to pass regulations for their regions and separate regulations. This system safeguards the uniformity of the socialist legal system as well as appropriately takes into consideration the characteristics of each region and the differences between them, thereby giving full play to the initiative of both the central and local levels of government. This system promptly converts mature lessons learned in carrying out reform and opening up into laws and also allows space for deepening reform. We always safeguard the authoritative position of the Constitution as the basic law of the country, and always act within legal limits and follow legally prescribed procedures in our legislative work. In addition to formulating new laws and regulations, we carry out concentrated reviews of existing laws and regulations and careful filing and examination of normative documents. This ensures that laws, administrative regulations, and local regulations do not conflict with the Constitution, that administrative regulations do not conflict with laws, that local regulations do not conflict with laws and administrative regulations and that there are no contradictions among the provisions of individual laws and regulations, thus maintaining the uniformity of the socialist legal system.

 III. Fully understanding the current situations and tasks facing the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics

 A major issue before us at present is how to make the newly formed socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics meet the needs of economic and social development and development of the socialist democracy and the legal system, how to step up legislative work, how to improve the quality of legislation and how to improve the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics. We must carry forward the successful practices and effective methods of the past, form a consensus, make a persistent effort, carry out the work with great political fervor and in a pragmatic manner, devote ourselves to the great effort of making China a country under the rule of socialist law and constantly make new achievements in legislative work. There are three points that need to be stressed here.

 The first point is that the legislative tasks remain huge and complex. The actual social activities are the basis of the law and the law is a summary of social activities and experiences. Social activities are always expanding so legislative work must always continue to make progress. Developing socialism with Chinese characteristics is a long-term historical task and so is developing the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics and they must be in line with the actual practice of socialism with Chinese characteristics. We must be fully aware that the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics is not static, closed or set in stone, but rather dynamic and open and developing. The new situations, new practices and new tasks raise new and higher requirements for legislative work.

 There are several reasons for this. One, China is now in the midst of profound historical change. On the way ahead there are bound to be various types of new situations and problems, some that can be foreseen and some difficult to foresee. We must resolve the major problems we are currently facing as well as set up institutions and mechanisms conducive to scientific development. The task of balancing reform, development and stability remains huge, so the amount of legislative work will not be shrinking and the tasks will not become smaller. Two, China’s economic and social development is now under the guidance of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan. During this period the central government is calling for tightly seizing and making good use of strategic opportunities, making continued substantial progress in scientific development and making meaningful progress in transforming the pattern of economic development. There is a great deal of legislative work to be done in connection with the goals and tasks outlined in the Twelfth Five-Year Plan and to ensure through institutions and the law that the major decisions and arrangements of the central government are implemented. Three, with the profound development of socialist democracy, people are becoming more and more eager to participate in government affairs. They are becoming more and more aware of their rights, their petitions for their rights are becoming more specific and their desire to participate in the legislative process is becoming ever stronger. This has placed higher requirements on legislative work. We must also be aware that our legal system, though it is already formed, is not perfect and without faults. Some laws, for example, need to be revised, some need support legislation and some legislation is still waiting to be introduced. The main reason for the delay is that the time is not appropriate for the legislation or a consensus has not yet been reached, which means that trial implementation must be continued to gain more experience. In summary, we need to step up not let up on legislative work. The National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee must therefore make good use of their role as the government body with the highest authority at the national level, exercise the legislative power of the state in accordance with the law, improve organization and coordination in legislative work, encourage relevant organizations to carefully study major issues related to legislation and propose solutions, make innovations in the concept of legislative work, improve the mechanism for legislative work, improve the overall quality of the organizations and individuals involved in legislative work, and improve the quality and raise the level of legislative work.

 The second point is that we need to make the revision and improvement of laws and the formulation of support legislation a higher priority. Now that the legal system has been set up, we need to spend more effort on revising and improving laws and on formulating and revising support legislation. Naturally, some new laws also need to be formulated to meet development needs and to keep the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics up to date and to improve it. There are three areas of work that we need to focus on for some time to come.

 One, we need to focus more on revising and improving existing laws. With the profound economic and social development taking place, some provisions of existing laws may not be so suitable for the current situation and may even be hindering economic and social development, and therefore need to be promptly revised and improved. Some of the provisions of laws were couched in generic terms, but after their implementation for some time we gained more experience and deepened our understanding of the issues and they need to be revised to make them more specific and enforceable. In addition, laws passed at different times may govern the same or similar relationships in society, requiring a careful survey to eliminate this problem. Therefore, we must place great importance on the work of revising and improving laws. This is an inherent requirement for improving the legal system as well as an important task for the current and future legislative work. Furthermore, we need to carry out evaluation of legislation that has been passed based on a review of experience in trials. We need to make an objective assessment of how scientific the legal system is, how practicable the provisions of the law are and how effective law enforcement is. This will provide important information needed to revise and improve laws and improve legislative work. In addition, we need to step up the work of interpreting the law and the work of compiling and reviewing the law. Laws and regulations need to be more specific in meaning. Where legal provisions need to be further defined, or where, after a law has been passed, a new situation arises that requires the definition of applicable legal grounds, timely interpretations should be issued to give concerned provisions a more accurate and specific meaning. This is also an important aspect of efforts to ensure that the law is effectively implemented.

 Two, we need to call on the relevant agencies to speed up formulation of support legislation. Administrative regulations and local regulations are important components of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics and provide details and fill in gaps for laws. Although some of these are in the process of being formulated and some are being implemented on a trial-and-error basis, most are support legislation for laws. We already have a work mechanism in place for formulating such legislation so we hope the relevant agencies take this work seriously, actively cooperate, follow the law and bear down on the task of formulating support legislation on the basis of a concentrated review of current regulations. From now on, proposals for support legislation must be submitted at the same time as the proposal for a newly formulated law or revision of a law in order to ensure that the law can be introduced soon after it is passed and to better ensure the effectiveness of the law.

 Three, we need to continue successfully formulating laws. We must concentrate on working out laws that will promote transformation of the pattern of economic development, ensure the people’s well-being and improve their lives, safeguard social harmony and stability, and promote sustainable development in light of economic and social development. We need to carefully review the implementation of administrative regulations and promptly upgrade to laws those that require regulation by legal means, provided that legislative conditions are in place and that there is a consensus among all quarters for doing so. It should be pointed out here that there are many tools for adjusting relationships in society in addition to legal means, such as market forces, social custom, moral standards and management experience, as well as scientific techniques. More laws are not necessarily better, so where there are issues that can be resolved using other tools for social adjustment it may not be appropriate and it may not be necessary to use legal means.

 The third point is that we need to take another step toward making legislation more scientific and more democratic. We must continue to make the legislative process more scientific and more democratic in order to improve the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics. This is not only an important manifestation of the people acting as masters of the country, but an important way to improve the quality of legislation as well. The process of forming the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics is a process of constantly making the legislative process more scientific and more democratic and a concentrated expression of socialist democracy. In the early years following the implementation of the reform and opening up policy, there was a serious problem of no laws to go by so we reasoned it was better to have some laws than no laws and it was better to pass laws quickly than slowly. This was necessary and appropriate at the time. Even under these circumstances, we always followed the mass line, fully considered the need for democracy and passed legislation as soon as it was ready. We have accumulated a great deal of beneficial experience in making legislation more scientific and democratic over the last 30-some years that has played an extremely important role in improving the quality of legislation. We need to carefully review our experience, work to make legislation more scientific and democratic, raise the quality of legislation and constantly improve the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics.

 We need to constantly look for ways and means to increase the orderly participation of the public in the legislative process, take full advantage of hearings, discussion meetings and seminars, gather comments and opinions from all sectors of society, especially from ordinary people, carefully consider the opinions and comments of experts, make background research for legislation more focused and pragmatic and constantly improve the mechanism for publicizing draft legislation. We need to develop a sound feedback mechanism for obtaining opinions from the public, actively respond to public concerns, and truly strengthen the actual benefits of public participation in the legislative process so that it is also a way of informing the public about the law. We need to improve the work mechanism for NPC delegates’ participation in the legislative process, combine the process of handling the legislative proposals of NPC delegates with the process of formulating and revising legislation and combine the invited participation of delegates in Standing Committee activities with efforts to improve the quality of drafting and examining of proposed legislation. We need to carefully study and learn from the comments and suggestions of delegates to give full play to the role of NPC delegates in legislation. We need to improve the mechanism for communication and coordination in the process of formulating draft legislation, take full advantage of the role of unified examination of the Law Committee and examination of the special committees and encourage the participation of all quarters so that the legislative process is a concerted effort. We must identify legislative items in a scientific and reasonable manner and improve a system for determining the merit of legislative items. We must constantly improve the quality of the process of examining draft legislation and take a cautious approach for bills where the legal issues are complex and there is a wide range of opinions by carrying out more studies for issues that require more study, carrying out numerous consultations where more consultation is needed and fully discussing issues that require more discussion. When a basic consensus has been reached a vote can then be taken on the bill. We need to improve the techniques in the legislative process and unify the style, structure and terms of the law to make provisions of the law more accurate, refined and standardized.

 Here I would also like to point out the problem of implementation of the law. The life force of the law is in its implementation. The formation of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics generally resolved the problem of many issues not governed by law. Under these conditions, issues that laws were not obeyed, law enforcement was not strict enough and violations of the law were not prosecuted came to the fore. This pressing problem is one that much of the general public is concerned about and one that has aroused strong reactions from all sectors of society. Therefore, in addition to continuing to improve the legislative process, we need to adopt active and effective measures to truly ensure that the Constitution and the law are effectively implemented. One, we must safeguard the authority and dignity of the Constitution and the law. All government organs and armed forces, all political parties and groups in society, and all enterprises and institutions of all sorts must obey the Constitution and the law. No individual or organization is above the Constitution and the law. All violations of the Constitution and the law must be prosecuted. Two, we must ensure administration in accordance with the law and fairness in the justice system. Government administrative organs should carry out their activities strictly within the scope of their legally granted powers and according to legally mandated procedures, and accelerate efforts to ensure government ruled by law. The judicial and procuratorial organs of the state should independently and fairly exercise their judicial and procuratorial functions in accordance with the law and safeguard fairness and justice in society. Three, we need to strengthen awareness of the law and the concept of rule by law in society. We need to formulate and put into action the “Sixth Five-Year Plan to Increase Public Awareness of the Law” and launch an extensive campaign to teach people about the socialist rule of law and to create an atmosphere of voluntary study and use of the law in society, so that all levels of leading cadres and personnel of state organs lead the way in obeying the Constitution and the law and being proficient at using the law to resolve practical problems in everyday life, and all ordinary people learn to express their demands for protection of their interests and resolve issues and disputes in accordance with the law following the proper procedures, and learn to use the law to safeguard their own individual rights and interests. The NPC and its Standing Committee must exercise their important authority to oversee the implementation of the Constitution and the law in accordance with the law, and all levels of local people’s congresses and their standing committees must exercise their important authority in accordance with the law to ensure that the Constitution, laws and administrative regulations are obeyed and enforced in their individual jurisdictions, thus ensuring that the power invested in the organs of the state by the people is truly used to pursue the interests of the general public.

 Forming the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics is a brilliant achievement, but perfecting the system is a heavy and long-term task. Let us all rally closely around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as General Secretary, hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, thoroughly implement the guidelines set out at the Seventeenth National Party Congress, uphold the combination of the leadership of the Party, the position of the people as masters of the country and the rule of law, fulfill our mission, move ahead, continue to improve the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics from this new starting point and make even greater contributions to the effort to strengthen the socialist democracy and legal system, implement the fundamental principle of the rule of law and develop China into a socialist country governed by the rule of law.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.3, 2011)


Note: Author: Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the Standing Committee of National People’s Congress of China

 This is a speech delivered by the author at the Seminar on the Formation of the Socialist Legal System with Chinese Characteristics held January 24, 2011. A few corrections were made in the version published in this magazine and subtitles were added by the editor.

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