China advances law-based governance

China’s legal system has become more full-fledged in the past decade. Since 2012, 68 new laws have been enacted and 234 laws have been amended by the National People’s Congress (NPC) and its standing committee. This has brought the country’s total number of effective laws to 292.

“The number of new laws enacted over the last decade has increased by one third compared with the decade before, and the number of laws amended has nearly doubled,” Xu Anbiao, deputy head of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, said at a press conference on April 25.

In particular, amendments to the Constitution were adopted in 2018, which establish the guiding role of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era in China’s political and social life, and underline the importance of the Party’s leadership.

Another milestone in Chinese legislation during the last decade is the adoption of the Civil Code, the first of its kind in the People’s Republic of China. Comprising sections on real rights, contracts, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance, and tort liabilities, as well as general and supplementary provisions, it addresses issues that people are concerned with.

Basic, comprehensive and guiding laws in important fields such as national security, health and culture have been promulgated; laws in other important fields such as the environment, education, and science and technology have been revised, according to Xu, adding that breakthroughs have been made in legislation in emerging fields such as network information and biosafety.

The Criminal Law has also been amended. The application of the death penalty has been further reduced, and the community correction system has been improved.

Moreover, the lawmaking process has embodied the concept of whole-process people’s democracy. “The voice of the people can be heard in all stages of law making, including the drafting, deliberation and adoption of a law, so as to ensure that the legislation reflects the common will of the people,” Xu said.

In the past decade, efforts have also been made to advance reform in judicial and law enforcement domains.

“Focus has been placed on removing bottlenecks that undermine judicial fairness,” said Shen Liang, Vice President of the Supreme People’s Court (SPC), at a press conference on April 22.

In 2015, courts changed the case filing procedure from accreditation to registration. Now more than 95.7 percent of cases can be filed upon submission, according to Shen.

The difficulty in executing court rulings has also been tackled. Shen said the SPC has set up an online system to precisely locate dishonest people who are subject to enforcement and their properties. The information of defaulters is published according to law and their nonessential consumption is restricted.

Shen added that Chinese courts have strictly adhered to the principles of legality, evidence-based judgment and presumption of innocence, so as to ensure that fair rulings are given to the guilty and the innocent are protected from criminal punishment.

Reform has also been carried out to hold judges accountable for the cases they adjudicate; give play to the oversight role of tribunal and court presidents; and make the handling and supervision of cases traceable throughout the whole process. China has made public court proceedings and judgments, trial procedures and the execution of effective judgments, as well as reasons for any ruling.

In addition to courts, procuratorial organs have also taken measures to ensure judicial fairness. They have made great efforts in rectifying wrongful convictions, holding those behind the decisions accountable, and stepping up oversight to prevent negligence of duty and abuse of power. Since 2014, they have filed public interest lawsuits in various fields such as environmental and resource preservation.

In the past decade, China has also made vigorous efforts to promote the digitization of justice. Case filing, fee payment, court hearings, investigation, document delivery and some litigation services can now be carried out online. Measures such as circuit trials have also been taken to deliver justice to remote and rural communities.

The reform in the legal sectors has provided a strong guarantee for social and economic development in China, and enables people to enjoy safer lives. A survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2021 showed that 98.6 percent of respondents felt safe living in the country.

China has been recognized as one of the safest countries in the world,” Jing said.

By Beijing Review reporter Wang Hairong
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SOURCE Beijing Review

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