The following is the full text of the Report on the Work of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), which was delivered by Chairman Wu Bangguo of the NPC Standing Committee on March 9, 2009 for review at the Second Session of the 11th NPC and adopted on March 13:
REPORT ON THE WORK OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL PEOPLE'S CONGRESS
Delivered at the Second Session of the Eleventh National People's Congress on March 9, 2009
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
I have been entrusted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) to present this report on its work for your deliberation and approval.
Main Accomplishments of Last Year
Faced with tremendous hardships and rigorous challenges in 2008, the Party Central Committee, with Comrade Hu Jintao as General Secretary, united with the people of all our ethnic groups and led them in working hard with one heart and one mind, completely winning a great victory in combating disasters and providing disaster relief, successfully hosting the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics, flawlessly accomplishing the Shenzhou VII manned space mission, solemnly commemorating the 30th anniversary of the reform and opening up policy, maintaining rapid economic growth, further improving the people's lives, maintaining overall social stability, enhancing China's international standing and making great new achievements in the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Last year was the first year in which the Standing Committee of the Eleventh NPC carried out its functions in accordance with the law. We fully implemented the guiding principles of the Seventeenth National Party Congress and the Third Plenary Session of the Seventeenth Central Committee, took Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents as our guide, thoroughly applied the Scientific Outlook on Development, and organically integrated the leadership of the Party, the position of the people as masters of the country and the rule of law. Focusing on the overall work of the Party and the state, we devoted a great deal of effort to resolving serious issues in economic and social development, exercised our functions and powers in accordance with the law, did our work energetically, and fully played our role as an organ of state power. Over the past year, we deliberated 15 draft laws, passed nine of them, heard and deliberated 13 work reports from the State Council, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, adopted three resolutions, investigated compliance with five laws, approved 13 treaties and accords China concluded with foreign countries and its accession to seven international conventions, and made decisions on and approved the appointment and removal of a number of employees in Chinese state organs, thus making further contributions to socialist economic, political, cultural and social development.
1. Giving full support to earthquake relief and post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction
The massive earthquake that hit Wenchuan in Sichuan Province on May 12 inflicted enormous damage to both lives and property in the quake zone and seriously affected the country's economic and social development. The earthquake elicited a sympathetic response from all the Chinese people. The NPC Standing Committee acted promptly, carried out the arrangements of the Central Committee diligently, took the characteristics of the NPC's work as its starting point, strengthened oversight and legislation, fully supported earthquake relief and post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction in the quake zone, and made full use of the political advantages of the socialist system which enables it to concentrate resources to accomplish large undertakings.
First, we promptly adjusted our work plan. The Chairperson's Council held a special session on May 22 to listen to the State Council's report on the earthquake. In order to focus on our work priorities and help the State Council concentrate on earthquake relief, the Chairperson's Council decided to adjust the work plan of the Standing Committee by putting deliberation of the State Council's report on earthquake relief and post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction and its proposed revisions of the central budget for 2008 on the agenda of the June meeting of the Standing Committee. It also decided to postpone deliberation of the 2007 central government final budget and the auditing report as well as the deliberation and approval of the final budget from the June meeting, where this is normally done, to the August meeting. In order to allow sufficient time to incorporate the useful lessons accumulated in carrying out earthquake relief, interim arrangements, and post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction into relevant laws, the Chairperson's Council decided to postpone the deliberation of the revised draft Law on Protecting Against and Mitigating Earthquake Disasters from June to October.
Second, we resolutely implemented the Party Central Committee’s decision on collecting financial resources for earthquake relief. It was made clear at the Chairperson's Council meeting on May 22 that safeguarding the lives of people in the quake zone was paramount and that we needed to proceed from the actual earthquake relief situation in everything we did. It was proposed that the bulk of the central budget stabilization fund should be used to establish a fund for post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction in line with the principle of taking special measures in special situations. According to the proposal, the actual revenue and expenditures of the fund should be included in the central budget, which should be adjusted accordingly, and this plan should be submitted to the NPC Standing Committee for deliberation and approval in accordance with the law. According to the same proposal, before the plan to revise the budget was approved, the fund should be first financed through the central treasury to ensure timely allocation of funding for earthquake relief and post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction. In addition, the requirement was made that there should be strict auditing and oversight of the use of the funds, and it was suggested that any further funding required should be arranged in advance. At the meeting of the Standing Committee in June, we deliberated and approved the plan to revise the central budget for 2008, and reached agreement to establish a fund for post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction, thus providing funding guarantees for smooth progress in earthquake disaster relief and post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction. Another proposal was made that the relevant authorities should formulate a plan for post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction and specific measures for implementing it as soon as possible, clarify recovery and reconstruction policies, and adopt a variety of means to support reconstruction and help disaster victims to resume production.
Third, while throwing ourselves headlong into earthquake relief, we never lost sight of the importance of promoting economic and social development to ensure that the tasks for the whole year would be completed. The Standing Committee passed a special resolution on June 26 which positively appraised the remarkable achievements made in providing earthquake relief; fully endorsed the work of the State Council, local governments and all sectors of society; and called for continued efforts to do everything possible to rescue the injured, make appropriate arrangements for the disaster victims and effectively carry out post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction. During the meeting, members of the Standing Committee pointed out that the massive Wenchuan earthquake and the severe snow and ice storms in part of the south at the beginning of the year made it difficult to successfully carry out our economic work for the whole year. They added that when facing difficulties, it is even more important to follow the Central Committee's decisions and arrangements, provide earthquake relief while also promoting economic and social development, pay close attention to, promptly study and effectively solve the major problems arising in economic activity, and successfully provide earthquake relief and promote economic and social development. Standing Committee members also stressed the need to carefully prepare for the Beijing Olympics despite the disruptions to ensure it is a distinctive and high-level event.
Fourth, we completely revised the Law on Protecting Against and Mitigating Earthquake Disasters. After the revised version of this law was deliberated for the first time at the meeting of the Standing Committee in October, we released the full text to the public via major news media for comments, and received over 7,300 comments and suggestions in return. Special committees of the NPC promptly organized highly qualified personnel to conduct investigations in the quake zone and carefully listen to the comments of cadres and ordinary people providing earthquake relief on the frontlines. The Standing Committee considerably revised the draft law based on these comments to raise the earthquake resistance standards for building construction, especially for schools, hospitals and other public facilities, improve the emergency rescue system and strengthen the systems and measures for making interim arrangements and carrying out post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction.
2. Vigorously promoting sound and rapid development of the economy
Thoroughly applying the Scientific Outlook on Development and promoting sound and rapid economic development is a focal point of the work of the Standing Committee. In our work, we focused on major problems in economic and social development, employed a full range of oversight means, strengthened follow-up oversight, made improvements in our work, and improved the legal framework, thereby making the work of the NPC more thorough and dynamic.
First, we carried forward implementation of the major macro-control decisions and arrangements of the Central Committee. In the face of a complicated, volatile international economic situation and serious conflicts and problems hindering domestic economic development last year, the Central Committee sized up the situation and promptly shifted the primary task for macro-control, which had been defined at the beginning of the year to be the prevention of excessively fast economic growth from becoming overheated growth and the prevention of structural price increases from turning into significant inflation, and redefined it to be maintenance of steady and rapid economic growth and curbing price hikes in mid-2008. In response to the rapidly spreading global financial crisis, in November the Central Committee resolutely shifted to a proactive fiscal policy and a moderately easy monetary policy and adopted a series of policies and measures to boost domestic demand and promote economic growth.
In order to ensure proper implementation of the Central Committee's major policies and arrangements, the Standing Committee, in addition to hearing and deliberating the reports on strengthening macro-control in the financial sector and stabilizing prices as originally scheduled, also deliberated and approved the report of the State Council on responding to the global financial crisis and ensuring steady and rapid economic development at its December meeting in response to the latest developments in the global financial crisis. At the meeting, members of the Standing Committee fully affirmed the State Council's work. In addition, they also noted that because the current global financial crisis was spreading and its impact on China's real economy was continuing to widen, the external economic environment for the country's development was worsening by the day. It was also noted that because of insufficient effective demand, some deep-rooted issues and problems in China's economic and social development would also become more serious. This required us to be more aware of potential danger and bring our thinking and actions in line with the Central Committee's analysis and judgment of the situation and its overall work arrangements. It was necessary for us to faithfully follow the guiding principles of the Central Economic Work Conference, transform serious challenges into development opportunities, and change market pressure into an impetus for adjustment. While working to maintain steady and rapid economic development, we needed to concentrate on speeding up transformation of the pattern of economic development and carrying out economic restructuring. Everyone present at the meeting emphasized that the excess production capacity in many industries made it imperative for us to strictly maintain the orientation of policies and investment and avoid low-level, redundant construction and a new round of haphazard urban expansion in implementing the proactive fiscal policy and the moderately easy monetary policy.
To ensure smooth implementation of the proactive fiscal policy, we proposed funding additional investment programs in 2008 from that year's surplus revenue in the central budget in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Budget Law, which had to be reported to the Standing Committee as required by law. We agreed that a certain proportion of the funds should be disbursed before the NPC approves the 2009 central budget in order to ensure adequate funding for key development projects and that when the budget is approved it should be implemented accordingly. We also suggested that the bonds issued for local governments, which need to be approved by the State Council and issued by the Ministry of Finance on their behalf, be incorporated into their budgets and submitted to the people's congress or its standing committee at the corresponding level for approval.
Second, we promoted transformation of the pattern of economic development. Accelerating change in the pattern of economic development and promoting improvement and upgrading of the industrial structure are pressing and major strategic tasks that have an overall bearing on the national economy. The Standing Committee heard and deliberated the State Council's report on the intermediate assessment of the implementation of the Outline of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan at its December meeting. Those present at the meeting fully acknowledged the achievements made, analyzed problems from an objective perspective, and made pertinent suggestions. They noted that the assessment showed satisfactory progress was being made toward most of the targets set forth in the outline and that the outline was being implemented satisfactorily on the whole. However, three of the four indices reflecting the condition of the economic structure - added value of the service sector, employment in the service sector, and R&D expenditures - failed to achieve the expected progress, and two major binding targets - energy consumption per unit of GDP and total emissions of major pollutants - fell far short of the set goals. To a great extent this showed that the pattern of China's economic development had not been transformed fundamentally: industry still holds the dominant position in the industrial structure, exports and investment still play the leading role in the demand structure, and serious problems such as mounting pressure on resources and the environment, increasing difficulty in expanding employment, and insufficient consumption still exist. We proposed that the State Council and relevant departments attach great importance to these problems, accelerate the implementation of the "three transformations" in the pattern of economic development [transformation from relying mainly on investment and exports to relying on a well coordinated combination of consumption, investment and exports, transformation from secondary industry serving as the major driving force to primary, secondary and tertiary industries jointly driving economic growth, and transformation from relying heavily on increased consumption of material resources to relying mainly on advances in science and technology, improvement in the quality of the workforce and innovation in management - Tr.] in accordance with the guiding principles of the Seventeenth Congress, and work harder to fulfill the objectives and tasks set forth in the Outline of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan. The Standing Committee also prodded governments at all levels and other concerned parties to apply the Scientific Outlook on Development and transform the pattern of economic development by enacting the Law to Promote a Circular Economy, revising the Patent Law, hearing and deliberating the State Council's report on preventing and controlling water pollution, and investigating compliance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Law.
Third, we promoted reform and development in rural areas. Doing the work related to agriculture, rural areas and farmers well has an overall bearing on the progress of the cause of the Party and the state. The last Standing Committee made significant achievements in tracking and overseeing these problems over the course of five consecutive years. Last year the Standing Committee heard and deliberated the State Council's report on spurring steady increase in rural incomes and related reports and made important suggestions on how to do a good job in work related to agriculture, rural areas and farmers. It investigated compliance with the Law on Specialized Farmer Cooperatives and acquired an in-depth understanding of the development of all types of specialized farmer cooperatives and the major problems facing them. We called for the implementation of all the policy support stipulated by the law to enable them to play a bigger role in strengthening the organization of farmers and guiding them in competing in domestic and international markets. The oversight by the NPC effectively promoted the building of a new socialist countryside. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the State Council, local governments at all levels and farmers, the growth rate of rural per capita net income reached 8% in 2008 following an annual increase of over 300 yuan or more than 6% over the previous four years running. Both total output and the yield per unit area reached an all-time high in the same year. By the end of 2008, the number of specialized farmer cooperatives nationwide exceeded 110,000, covering over 1.4 million households. The average annual income of rural households that have joined the cooperatives was more than 20% higher than that of those that have not. While fully confirming these achievements, members of the Standing Committee also pointed out that we needed to attach great importance to problems such as the still low overall income level of farmers, the widening income gap between urban and rural residents, the declining comparative returns from agriculture, backward agricultural infrastructure, and new difficulties facing rural workers looking for nonagricultural employment. They also pointed out the need to effectively promote rural reform, significantly increase our funding for agriculture, rural areas and farmers, strictly protect arable land, gradually make the prices of grain and other agricultural products more reasonable, constantly improve financial and technical services to aid agriculture and benefit farmers, support and guide the development of the non-public sector of the economy and rural workers seeking employment in a variety of nonagricultural sectors, maintain steady agricultural development and sustain increase in rural incomes.
3. Focusing on solving the problems affecting people's well-being
Putting people first and promoting the resolution of problems affecting people's well-being are another focus of the work of the Standing Committee. We combined legislation with oversight in our work. While improving our work, we also strived to enact and improve laws and while working on legislation, we also strived to more effectively investigate compliance with laws and carry out work oversight, thus strengthening the connection between the work of the NPC and people's well-being and making the NPC's work even more practical.
Because food safety affects the people's health and safety, deputies to the NPC and all sectors of society attach great importance to this issue. In response to the serious problems revealed by the defective Sanlu milk powder and other major food safety scandals, the Standing Committee revised the draft Law on Food Safety based on in-depth investigations and studies and a wide range of opinions.
First, to effectively strengthen oversight and management of food safety, in addition to prescribing that all relevant competent authorities shall exercise oversight within the scope of their duties and responsibilities, the revised draft law stipulates that the State Council shall set up a food safety commission to coordinate and guide food safety work. It also stipulates that local people's governments at and above the county level shall have overall responsibility for and lead, organize, and coordinate oversight and management of food safety within their administrative areas.
Second, to address the misuse of food additives, the revised draft law follows a principle of prescribing non-use, use of appropriate amounts or use of lower amounts and clearly stipulates that food additives shall be used only if they are technically necessary and have been proved safe through risk assessment. When the use of a food addictive is necessary, food safety standards shall be strictly followed in deciding the category, scope and concentration of the additive. No chemicals other than food additives and no materials that might be harmful to people's health shall be used in food production.
Third, annual sales of health food of every conceivable description have exceeded 100 billion yuan. Without proper oversight in place, people cannot tell what is genuine from what is fake, making it difficult to decide which products to purchase. To address this problem, the revised draft law stipulates that the State Council shall quickly work out regulations to standardize production, restore order in the distribution market and strengthen oversight and management in order to boost the confidence of consumers.
Building on the work of the last Standing Committee, this Standing Committee carried out another investigation of compliance with the revised versions of the Law on Compulsory Education and the Law on the Protection of Minors. We also investigated compliance with the recently promulgated Law on Labor Contracts. These investigations have a direct bearing on the well-being of 170 million primary and junior secondary school students and over 360 million minors and the immediate interests of hundreds of millions of workers. The issues involved in these laws are all concerns of deputies to people's congresses and the general public. We looked closely at actual conditions in society and uncovered significant problems in the enforcement of laws and then submitted important suggestions on implementing a funding mechanism for compulsory education, increasing funding for compulsory education, cleaning up the cultural environment of the Internet to which minors are exposed and doing more to solve the problem of wages in arrears, especially those of rural migrant workers. Our suggestions, which were carefully studied by the State Council and relevant departments, helped to more effectively enforce the law and improve work.
First, the funding mechanism for compulsory education was implemented in accordance with the law, and funding for compulsory education throughout the country increased by a large margin. Per capita budgetary expenditures for primary and junior secondary school students increased significantly over the previous year. The central government also increased funding for the renovation of school buildings in the central and western regions of the country.
Second, relevant departments of the State Council jointly carried out a special campaign to clean up objectionable and unhealthy online material, strengthen management of Internet content and severely crack down on illegal and criminal behavior dangerous to the young, thereby improving the online cultural environment and winning acclaim from the general public.
Third, promulgation of the Law on Labor Contracts has brought about greater awareness of the importance of labor contracts, and significantly increased the number of labor contracts concluded. Some 93% of employees working for large enterprises signed their labor contracts across the country. The average term of newly concluded contracts was also longer. Employment and reemployment efforts were intensified and protection of the rights and interests of workers of enterprises, especially rural migrant workers, was strengthened. In light of the latest developments and problems facing employment efforts, Standing Committee members pointed out at their meeting that we must strongly support the development, transformation and upgrading of small and medium-sized enterprises, adopt whatever means necessary to stabilize and expand employment, prevent accumulation of wages in arrears and huge layoffs and work hard to solve the problem of too few workers concluding labor contracts in the service and construction industries and in small and medium-sized enterprises and private companies in order to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of all workers and ensure harmonious labor relations.
In order to improve the social security system and help dispel the worries of workers, the Standing Committee made big changes to the draft Social Security Law on the basis of initial deliberation by the last Standing Committee. Specific rules were formulated in the five chapters concerning old-age insurance, medical insurance, workers' compensation, unemployment insurance and maternity insurance. Clear provisions were set out to address issues of greatest concern to workers, such as transfer of basic old-age insurance accounts between regions, and the need to improve overall planning for basic old-age insurance funds and tighten regulation of social security funds. These changes have been widely applauded by the general public, and we are improving the draft law in light of the suggestions received. The Standing Committee also revised the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, adding more provisions prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities and strengthened protection of their rights and interests in matters such as rehabilitation, education, employment, social security and handicap-accessible facilities.
4. Striving to successfully carry out our routine work
During the past year we strove to successfully carry out our routine work while concentrating on the main tasks of the Party and the government and doing the above-mentioned work well in accordance with the features of the NPC's work. We made further progress in legislation, oversight, and our efforts to give full play to the role of the deputies and special committees and carry out foreign relations work, and raised the overall quality and level of the Standing Committee's work.
In our legislative work of the past year, we first of all formulated the five-year program for legislation and held a legislative work meeting to map out the work plan for the coming period. Second, we enacted the Law on State-Owned Assets in Enterprises, the Law on Food Safety, the seventh amendment to the Criminal Law, and the Law to Promote a Circular Economy and revised the Law on Protecting Against and Mitigating Earthquake Disasters, the Law on Security for Disabled Persons, the Fire Protection Law, the Insurance Law and the Patent Law. To address the major problems in the administration and supervision of state-owned assets in enterprises, we defined the basic principles governing the system of investors of state-owned assets as part of the Law on State-Owned Assets in Enterprises. Provisions were set out in this law concerning the basic rules that must be followed and strict oversight procedures for major actions related to investor rights and interests. Provisions covered actions that could easily lead to loss of state-owned assets, such as conversion of enterprises into joint stock companies, related party transactions and evaluation and transfer of assets. Third, we called on the concerned departments to formulate supporting regulations and relevant work procedures to ensure full compliance with laws, requiring that arrangements be made to formulate supporting regulations during the process of deciding on legislative items and drafting laws in an effort to implement laws and corresponding regulations at the same time. Fourth, we worked to make legislation more scientific and democratic and expand the orderly participation of the general public in the legislative process. It was decided by the Chairperson's Council that in principle, all draft laws under deliberation by the Standing Committee should be released to the public on www.npc.gov.cn, that major bills should also be published by major national media organizations to solicit opinions from the general public, and that this should become common practice. We also carried out thorough investigations and studies concerning issues of vital importance involved in draft laws and gave relevant parties the opportunity to stay fully informed and express their ideas through workshops and debates so they could participate in efforts to find solutions and improve draft laws.
In oversight work, we followed the suggestion of deputies to incorporate deliberation of the State Council's report on counteracting the severe snow and ice storms in part of the south and carrying out post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction into the agenda of the Standing Committee's April meeting. We called on relevant departments to learn from their experience, improve the mechanisms for coping with emergencies and truly enhance disaster preparedness and mitigation capability. At our August meeting we heard and deliberated the reports on the final central government budget for 2007, on auditing work and on plan implementation, deliberated and approved the report on the final central government budget and submitted important proposals on establishing a mechanism for ensuring adequate basic financial resources at the county level, carrying out VAT reform throughout the country in 2009 and standardizing transfer payments. At our October meeting we heard and deliberated the report of the Supreme People’s Court on improving criminal trial work and the report of the Supreme People's Procuratorate on strengthening oversight for criminal trials. We called on the courts and procuratorates to correctly enforce the law, follow a policy of severity tempered with mercy in criminal trials, ensure justice and efficiency in trial and oversight work and constantly work to improve judicial work. We improved filing and examination for normative documents last year, including administrative laws and regulations, local ordinances and legal interpretations. We received a total of 475 normative documents to be filed and handled 86 suggestions from ordinary individuals and organizations concerning examination work.
In enabling deputies to play their proper role, we first of all diligently processed their proposals. The special committees have handled all the 462 proposals that the Presidium of the last NPC session assigned to them. Eight laws that came up in 26 proposals have been adopted by the Standing Committee. Deliberations are being conducted on four draft laws that were brought up in 50 proposals, and 38 legislative items listed in 126proposals have been included in the legislative plan. Second, we expanded channels through which deputies can stay informed and learn about political affairs. We organized inspection tours and studies for deputies on special topics, informed them of the latest developments through various means, and continued to invite deputies to attend meetings of the Standing Committee as observers and participate in investigations of compliance with laws. Deputies attending meetings and participating in investigations carefully prepared in advance and actively contributed to the discussions. This gave the people a voice and played an important role in improving the quality of the work of the Standing Committee. Third, we took the suggestions submitted by deputies very seriously. A total of 6,279 suggestions were made by the deputies during the last NPC session, and the problems mentioned in 4,489, or 71.5%, of them have been resolved or will be resolved according to plan.
In the area of foreign relations, we continued to consolidate the mechanisms for regular exchanges between the NPC and the congresses or parliaments of other countries. We carried out various forms of dialogue with the parliaments of the United Kingdom, France, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Egypt, as well as with the European Parliament. In response to provocations from the congresses of some countries concerning the Taiwan and Tibet questions, we engaged in fierce struggle and defended China's core interests through declarations from the chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Members of the Chairperson's Council, special committees and friendship groups worked to improve interaction with foreign congressional leaders, representatives and aides, increase mutual trust, remove misunderstandings, boost mutually beneficial cooperation and promote improvement in all aspects of foreign relations through exchange visits. We actively took part in the activities organized by international and regional parliamentary organizations and successfully hosted the fifth Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting.
The special committees of the NPC represent rich funds of knowledge and capable personnel and carry out their work on a regular basis. The Standing Committee makes good use of the role of the special committees. Shortly after it was formed, the new Standing Committee promptly held discussions with leading members of the special committees to exchange views and reach a common understanding on how to strengthen and improve the work of the NPC, especially the work of the special committees. Focusing on the central tasks of the NPC and its standing committee, the special committees did a great amount of effective work in improving the quality of legislation, making oversight more effective, making good use of the role of deputies and carrying out foreign relations work, and effectively promoted overall improvement in the work of the Standing Committee.
5. Effectively promoting self-improvement
Working on self-improvement helps to ensure that the NPC and its standing committee are able to properly exercise their functions and powers and give full play to their role. This Standing Committee attaches great importance to self-improvement and keeps ideological and political development high on its agenda. It maintains the correct political orientation and uses it to guide all the work of the NPC.
This Standing Committee held its first meeting on March 19 last year, the day after the First Session of the Eleventh NPC was successfully concluded. The requirement to maintain the correct political orientation in the work of the NPC was firmly established as the first order of business at that meeting. Time was then set aside for careful study of the guiding principles of the Seventeenth Congress and General Secretary Hu Jintao's important speeches to strengthen ideological consensus and improve understanding. Members of the Standing Committee and the special committees all agree that the people's congresses and their standing committees are organs of state power and extremely vital political institutions. Maintaining the correct political orientation is essential to the success of the work of the people's congresses. The most fundamental aspect of this effort is to organically integrate the leadership of the Party, the position of the people as the masters of the country and the rule of law, and the core of this effort is to uphold the leadership of the Party. The people's congresses and their standing committees exercise their functions and powers and decide on issues collectively in accordance with the law, so maintaining the correct political orientation depends on each and every person involved. To keep to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and uphold and improve the system of people's congresses in their work, we must more fully recognize the essential differences between the system of people's congresses and Western capitalist countries' system of political power.
First, we must fully understand the essential differences between China's people's congresses and Western congresses and parliaments. China's system of political parties is a system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, not a Western-style multiparty system. The CPC is at the core of the country's leadership and the ruling party, while the democratic parties are participating parties. Deputies to the people's congresses representing counties and townships are elected directly by their constituencies. Deputies to the congresses above the county level are elected indirectly by the people's congress at the next lower level, who then form delegations on the basis of their constituencies to attend sessions of their people's congresses. The people's congresses have no congressional party groups, and they do not carry out activities on the basis of sectors of society. No seats are assigned on the basis of parties in either the people's congresses, their standing committees or their special committees. All deputies to the people's congresses, members of their standing committees and members of their special committees shoulder the great trust of the people and fulfill their responsibilities to serve the people under the leadership of the CPC in accordance with the law, no matter whether they are Communists, members of the democratic parties or persons without party affiliation, and they all share the same fundamental interests.
Second, we must be fully aware of the essential differences between the people's congresses' relationship to the governments, the people's courts and the people's procuratorates and the relationships between state organs of Western countries. The people's congresses exercise state power in a unified way, and the governments, the people's courts and the people's procuratorates are all created by them and are responsible to them and subject to their oversight. Although China's state organs have different responsibilities, they all adhere to the line, principles and policies of the Party, enforce the Constitution and laws within their respective jurisdictions under the leadership of the CPC and work to build and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics. The system of people's congresses is not a Western system with the separation of the three powers. The people's congresses decide on the major principles and policies of the state by formulating laws and passing resolutions in accordance with the stands of the Party and the will of the people. They oversee and support the governments in carrying out their administrative functions in accordance with the law. They also oversee and support the people's courts and the people's procuratorates in exercising their judicial functions fairly. They ensure that state organs carry out their work in a coordinated and effective manner. In addition, they use the power granted to them by the people to truly further their interests.
Third, we must be fully aware of the essential differences between deputies to the NPC and members of Western parliaments and congresses. Deputies come from every region, ethnic group and sector of society of the country, and there is at least one deputy from each ethnic minority group no matter how small its population is. Deputies are therefore broadly representative and they do not represent a single party or group as members of Western parliaments and congresses do. Deputies live among the people and maintain close ties with them. They all hold posts in their respective fields of endeavor and fully understand how the principles and policies of the Party and the government and the Constitution and laws are implemented and the practical problems of daily life. Deputies exercise their lawful duties and powers collectively at meetings, rather than each deputy addressing problems directly and separately from other deputies. Functional organs of the standing committees of the people's congresses at all levels collectively advise, assist and serve the deputies.
Members of the Standing Committee and the special committees all strongly believe that the key to maintaining the correct political orientation in the work of the NPC is to uphold the leadership of the Party. The CPC is the core of the leadership for building socialism with Chinese characteristics. Leadership by the Party can only be strengthened and in no way weakened. Through thorough studies and discussions, we have gained a more thorough understanding of the important points made by Comrade Deng Xiaoping, including: "Without the leadership of the Party a big country like China would be torn by strife and incapable of accomplishing anything." "China and its socialist modernization must be led by the Communist Party. There can be no wavering from this principle. Without it China would regress and become divided and chaotic, and modernization would become impossible." We have therefore become more purposeful and resolute in upholding the Party's leadership, in keeping to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and in adhering to and improving the system of people's congresses. Through the work of the NPC, we must ensure that the stands of the Party become the will of the state through legally stipulated procedures and that the personnel recommended by Party organizations become the leaders of the organs of state power through legally stipulated procedures. The work of the NPC must all be conducive to strengthening and improving the leadership of the Party, consolidating its position as the ruling party and ensuring that it is able to lead the people in effectively running the country.
Members of the Standing Committee and the special committees all agree that the political development path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the only correct path that was chosen by the Chinese people under the leadership of the CPC, best suits the conditions of China, and guides the development of socialist democratic politics in China. Deepening our political restructuring means constantly promoting self-improvement and self-development of the socialist political system including the system of people's congresses. We must draw on the achievements of all cultures, including their political achievements, but we will never simply copy the system of Western countries or introduce a system of multiple parties holding office in rotation, a system with the separation of the three powers or a bicameral system.
Over the last year, we improved our competence, work style and institutions while also focusing on our ideological and political development.
First, we improved training for deputies on how to carry out their duties. Members of the Standing Committee and the special committees were brought together to learn about the organizational structure, functions and powers and rules for discussion of the NPC and other areas of knowledge closely related to their legislative and oversight work. After each Standing Committee meeting, special topic lectures were held related to its agenda and these proved very effective. In addition to study sessions organized for newly elected deputies, we focused on training for deputies on how to carry out their duties. Eight training courses were held attended by over 1,300 deputies.
Second, we revised our working methods. Most members of the Standing Committee and the special committees, who had long worked in Party and government departments, adapted to their new positions in the NPC quickly. They performed their duties in accordance with the law, spent more time and energy than they did in their former positions in investigating actual conditions, meeting with the general public and visiting lower-level organizations, strengthened their investigation and study efforts and compiled a number of valuable reports, thus improving the quality of deliberations and providing reference information that helped in the formulation of major policy decisions of the Party and government.
Third, we improved our working systems. We revised and improved four documents concerning our work on the basis of a careful review of practical experience, including rules for discussion in the Chairperson's Council, and conducted studies on how best to modify the Organic Law of the National People's Congress, the Electoral Law of the National People's Congress and Local People's Congresses and rules for discussion in the NPC Standing Committee.
Organs of the NPC launched a campaign to thoroughly study and put into practice the Scientific Outlook on Development. In order to serve scientific development and improve their role as collective adviser and assistant for deputies, they conscientiously worked to resolve major problems, and established a sound permanent mechanism for improving their work. They improved the overall quality of their cadres, focusing on increasing their competence. They encouraged their employees to devote themselves to study, became more harmonious, and strove to fully mobilize the enthusiasm, initiative and creativity of their employees, producing positive changes in their overall situation.
The achievements of the Standing Committee last year were made under the correct leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as General Secretary and are the result of the hard work of the deputies, members of the Standing Committee and the special committees, and the employees of the organs of the NPC. Credit is also due to the State Council, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate for their assistance and to the local people's congresses and their standing committees and the general public for their support. On behalf of the Standing Committee, I would now like to express my sincerest thanks to all of them.
We are also clearly aware that more than a few aspects of our work need to be improved. First, we need to focus more on key areas and concentrate more on key problems in carrying out our work in order to improve the overall quality of the work of the NPC and make it more target-focused. Second, we need to urge the relevant authorities to formulate supporting regulations for laws in a timely manner to effectively resolve the problem of laws that cannot be effectively enforced due to lack of supporting regulations. Third, we need to improve services to deputies to help them better carry out their duties. Fourth, we need to further coordinate the efforts of special committees so that they can function more efficiently. Fifth, we need to improve our publicity efforts related to the law, make state organs more purposeful about carrying out their functions in accordance with the law and enhance respect for the law and increase awareness of the legal system among the general public. We will conscientiously accept the oversight of the people, earnestly listen to the opinions of deputies and carefully study new situations and problems that arise in the development of democracy and the legal system to constantly strengthen and improve the work of the Standing Committee and more effectively exercise the functions and powers granted to us by the Constitution and laws.
Major Tasks for This Year
The year 2009 marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of New China and it will be a crucial year in terms of responding to the major challenges presented by changes in the international and domestic environments and developing all our country's undertakings. The general requirements for the work of the Standing Committee are as follows: We must faithfully follow the guiding principles of the Seventeenth Congress, the Third Plenary Session of the Seventeenth Central Committee and the Central Economic Work Conference. We must take Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents as our guide and thoroughly apply the Scientific Outlook on Development. We must organically integrate the leadership of the Party, the position of the people as masters of the country and the rule of law, focus on the overall work of the Party and the government in carrying out our functions and powers, work to develop the legal system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, strive to promote steady and rapid economic development and social harmony and stability, intensify efforts to ensure effective enforcement of the Constitution and laws, and work to bring the work of the NPC up to a new level.
1. Taking decisive steps toward establishing a legal system of socialism with Chinese characteristics
The CPC Central Committee clearly set the goal of establishing a legal system of socialism with Chinese characteristics by 2010. This year will be crucial for efforts to attain this goal. We must both formulate new legislation and revise and eliminate unsuitable portions of existing laws while working to improve the quality of legislation in accordance with the guiding principles of the Seventeenth Congress so we can take decisive steps toward establishing a legal system of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
First, we must promptly formulate new laws and make revisions in existing laws that will form the framework for the legal system, focusing on improving legislation concerned with social issues while continuing to improve legislation concerned with economic, political and cultural issues. Legislative work on the agenda for this year includes the following. We will formulate a social security law, social welfare law, law on tort liability, law on administrative coercion, law on arbitration of disputes concerning contracted rural land, law on mental health and law on national defense mobilization. We will also revise the Law on State Compensation, the Law on Protecting State Secrets, the Electoral Law, the Organic Law of Villager Committees, the Land Administration Law, the Postal Law and the Statistics Law. We will work to improve organization and coordination in legislative work, make legislation more scientific and democratic, expand orderly participation of the general public in the legislative process, improve research and scientific verification to formulate legislation and work to obtain a broad consensus of opinion to improve the quality of legislation. We will continue to urge relevant authorities to promptly formulate supporting regulations to ensure effective enforcement of laws.
Second, we need to finish the work of revising unsuitable provisions to improve existing legislation. There are 231 laws currently in effect in China, and a number of these have areas that still have room for improvement. There are three main categories of laws requiring improvement. 1) There are some laws which were formulated in the 1980s or early 1990s and contain provisions that no longer meet the requirements for developing the socialist market economy. 2) There are inconsistencies and gaps in laws formulated at different times. 3) Some laws are difficult to apply and the state is unable to enforce compliance with them. In light of this situation, the Standing Committee last year made arrangements for the work of revising unsuitable portions of the existing laws. We need to finish this work before the end of this year. We will carefully study and make a comprehensive analysis of suggestions made by relevant parties and proceed in order of importance and urgency. We will handle this task in accordance with the different types of treatment required, i.e. revision, rescinding, legal interpretation or formulation of new provisions, to develop a scientific, consistent and harmonious legal system.
Thanks to the concerted efforts of all sectors of society since the introduction of the reform and opening up policy in 1978,a legal system of socialism with Chinese characteristics had been basically established by the end of the term of the Tenth NPC. With the Constitution as its core and seven types of laws as its backbone, this legal system consists of three levels of laws and regulations, i.e. laws, administrative regulations, and local ordinances. There are now laws that cover basically every area of the country's economic, political, cultural and social activities, and these laws effectively ensure and promote development of the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. At the same time, we are clearly aware that the rapid economic and social development, constant progress in socialist democratic politics, the rich and varied cultural activities in society, efforts to create a harmonious society, structural and institutional reform and innovation, and the deepening of economic globalization all present new issues and new requirements for our legislative work. Our legislative tasks are still arduous.
It must be emphasized here that ours is a legal system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, so we must bear in mind the following four points in the process of establishing and improving it.
First, the Western model of a legal system cannot be copied mechanically in establishing our own. Some of the laws in the legal systems of other countries are incompatible with the situation and conditions in China so we will not formulate such laws. Some laws that are not part of the legal systems of other countries but are nevertheless a practical necessity for China need to be promptly enacted.
Second, administrative regulations and local ordinances are both important components of our legal system. When conditions are not ripe to formulate laws, administrative regulations or local ordinances can be legally formulated instead. When sufficient experience has been obtained and conditions become ripe corresponding laws can be formulated. Local ordinances, autonomy statutes or specific regulations can also be legally formulated to cover local issues and matters specific to ethnic minority areas.
Third, we need to distinguish between legal means and regulatory tools and resort to legislation only when it is truly necessary in order to make better use of the functions and roles of the legal system.
Fourth, our legal system is dynamic, open and in the process of development. We need to constantly improve it in light of developments and changes in the objective situation so that it can keep pace with the times.
2. Focusing oversight work on promoting the implementation of the major policy decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee
This year is the toughest year for economic development since we entered the new century, with huge tasks facing us in reform, development and stability. But, great opportunities exist side by side with severe challenges. In order to successfully carry out this year's work, the Central Committee has clearly pointed out that we must maintain steady and rapid economic growth based on boosting domestic demand, promote sustainable development by accelerating transformation of the pattern of development and economic restructuring, make economic and social development stronger and more dynamic by deepening reform and opening up, intensify social development to speed up resolution of difficult and hotspot issues that bear on the interests of the people, and promote sound and rapid economic and social development and social harmony and stability. The Central Committee has made a number of major policy decisions and arrangements to accomplish these tasks and has called on all Party members and the people of all our ethnic groups to enhance their confidence in the face of difficulty and work hard together to constantly move forward the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The top priority for the Standing Committee's oversight work this year is to oversee implementation of the major policy decisions and arrangements of the Central Committee. We will fully implement the Law on Oversight, apply a combination of oversight means, and urge and support the State Council, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate in carrying out their work in accordance with the targets and tasks they put forward in their work reports to ensure implementation of the Central Committee's major policy decisions and arrangements and successful accomplishment of this year's tasks for economic and social development.
First, we must improve oversight of economic work. We will hear and deliberate the State Council's special work reports on transforming the pattern of economic development, promoting development of small and medium-sized enterprises, and preventing and controlling air pollution, as well as its reports on the 2008 central government final budget, auditing work and plan implementation, and will deliberate and approve the final budget. We will devote a great deal of effort to promoting steady and rapid economic development and transforming the pattern of economic development.
Second, we must strengthen our oversight of the handling of issues affecting people's well-being. We will hear and deliberate the State Council's special work reports on developing a social safety net in rural areas, promoting employment and reemployment, carrying out recovery and reconstruction following the earthquake that hit Wenchuan, Sichuan Province, and developing vocational education, the Supreme People's Court's report on improving enforcement of civil law, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate's report on investigating cases of dereliction of duty and infringement of rights. In addition, we will investigate compliance with laws such as the Law on Trade Unions, the Food Safety Law and the Livestock Breeding Law in a strong effort to maintain and improve people's standard of living and promote social harmony and stability.
In light of the fact that there are quite a few uncertainties in this year's economic situation, we will concentrate our oversight work on two areas to make it more focused and effective. First, we will carry out more investigations and studies to gain a clear picture of actual conditions so we can focus on major problems and the main aspects of those problems and put forward good comments and suggestions. Second, we will use a combination of oversight means, strengthen follow-up oversight, focus on key and difficult problems of common concern to the deputies, and urge the concerned parties to improve their work and set up a sound permanent mechanism for resolving these problems.
We have devoted a great deal of effort in recent years to strengthening and improving the oversight work of the NPC, achieved significant results and established a comprehensive system of effective working mechanisms and methods. The Tenth NPC formulated the Law on Oversight to provide a legal framework for these mechanisms and methods in order to make the oversight work of the standing committees of the people's congresses at all levels more standardized and proceduralized. Over the last two years or so since its implementation, this law has proven to be a good law that is in line with China's actual conditions and the work of the people's congresses. In order to ensure that this law is implemented more successfully and that the people's congresses carry out their oversight work more effectively, we need to clear up three points.
First, the power of oversight is an important power granted to the people's congresses by the Constitution and laws. Their oversight carries the force of law and is carried out in the name of the country and the people, making it irreplaceable. Their oversight work, which consists of oversight of law enforcement and oversight of work performance, covers a great deal of ground, involves a great variety of arduous tasks and is well worth doing.
Second, the people's congresses oversee the work of the people's governments, people's courts and people's procuratorates, but this does not mean that they are confrontational or create difficulties for the parties they oversee. On the contrary, the people's congresses and the organizations they oversee are working toward the same goals. When the people's congresses carry out their oversight work effectively in accordance with the law, it helps improve the work of the people's governments, people's courts and people's procuratorates. When the people's governments, people's courts and people's procuratorates willingly accept the oversight of the people's congresses in accordance with the law, it helps ensure that the people's governments carry out their administrative functions in accordance with the law and that the people's courts and people's procuratorates exercise their judicial functions fairly.
Third, the key to doing the oversight work of the people's congresses well is to focus on key areas and stress practical results. A law may contain many provisions, but there are usually only a few that the people are most concerned about. At the same time, there are many issues and problems that have to be addressed in the course of our work, but there are usually only several that are in fact crucial. Therefore, if we focus on resolving these crucial issues, we can expand our efforts to include other issues so that the results of our oversight work can be truly significant.
3. Making continued progress in strengthening the role of deputies, carrying out foreign relations work and promoting self-improvement
We will continue to fully implement the guiding principles of document No. 9 issued by the Central Committee, starting with upholding and improving the system of people's congresses, respecting the major role of deputies and maintaining an attitude of service to deputies. We will work to improve the level of service provided to deputies, expand their participation in the work of the Standing Committee and special committees, sincerely listen to deputies' criticism and comments, improve the handling of bills they submit, expand channels to enable them to stay informed of state affairs and developments, provide special training for them and work hard to protect, guide and unleash their initiative in performing their functions in accordance with the law.
We will continue to strengthen and improve foreign relations work of the NPC. We will consolidate and improve the NPC's mechanisms for regular exchanges with the congresses and parliaments of other countries, make good preparations for exchange visits with the congresses and parliaments of the countries included in the mechanisms for regular exchanges, and engage in extensive friendly contacts with foreign congresses and parliaments to give more play to the unique role of the NPC in foreign relations.
We will strengthen and improve the NPC's publicity efforts. We will make full use of radio, TV, newspapers, periodicals, the Internet and other media to explain the political development path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the system of people's congresses, step up efforts to inform people about and report on the NPC's legislative and oversight work, and work to increase knowledge of the law and enhance respect for it throughout society.
We will continue to intensify our self-improvement efforts, maintain a correct political orientation for the work of the NPC and firmly instill the concept of attaching great importance to the Party, political matters, the overall situation, the people and the law. We will carefully study the Constitution to better understand it and safeguard its authority. We will handle matters in accordance with the law and prescribed procedures, improve the deliberation procedures, working rules and work style of the Standing Committee, improve investigation and study efforts, and carefully organize seminars. We will strengthen coordination of the work of the special committees to improve its overall quality and level. We will strengthen ties with local people's congresses and work with them to develop socialist democracy and the socialist legal system. Organs of the NPC need to build on their achievements in the campaign to thoroughly study and put into practice the Scientific Outlook on Development and constantly work to improve their working systems and mechanisms as well as the overall quality of their cadres, improve their services and be a good collective advisor and assistant.
Our responsibilities and missions inspire us, and our difficulties and challenges test us. Let us rally closely around the Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as General Secretary, hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, thoroughly apply the Scientific Outlook on Development, work hard together with one heart and one mind, greet the 60th anniversary of the founding of New China with brilliant achievements, and courageously forge ahead on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics!