China's rule of law makes major gains

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/20 20:48:39

Multiple laws concerning national security passed in past five years


China's "rule of law governance" has entered a critical stage after the past five years saw great achievement in legal reform and legislation, said experts as they reflect on China Central Television's (CCTV) new six-episode documentary, Rule of Law in China. 

The documentary, which CCTV started airing on Friday, introduces the development of China's legal system and the goals that the Communist Party of China (CPC) had accomplished after the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, using proof of law enforcement and the public's views on political and legal theories of the CPC and their satisfaction with the development of the country's legal system.

CCTV airs the documentary daily on TV and on its website.

"The documentary's release shows that the CPC is sincerely pushing its fundamental strategy, 'Governing the Country According to the Law.' The Party announced this strategy in 1997 during the CPC's 15th National Congress, and this year marks the 20th anniversary of the announcement and also the 19th CPC National Congress. Therefore, it means the Party has realized that the strategy needs to be further developed since 2017 is very different from 1997," said Zhi Zhenfeng, a legal expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"The Party's view on law has been moving forward since 1978, the beginning of the country's opening-up. From 1978 to the 1990s, 'Governing the Country According to the Law' mainly focused on fixing the mistakes of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and cut unnecessary legal limitations on people to release the power of Chinese society for economic development," Zhi said. 

"However, in 2017, the CPC and China are facing a new era. In the past, the priority was economic development for the country and the Party. But after the people have achieved material gains from this fast development, the Party also needs to protect the people's legal interests and rights, and this is a higher requirement for 'Governing the Country According to the Law' at this moment," Zhi said.

'Spear' and 'shield'

After the 18th CPC National Congress, China issued laws linked to national security, such as the anti-espionage law, the anti-terrorism law and the intelligence law, which provide greater legal tools to safeguard the national interest and security, the documentary said.

An anonymous officer from the Chinese state security ministry told the Global Times that the intelligence law is like a "spear" and the anti-terrorism law a "shield." Cooperation with other individuals and organizations used to be difficult, even between government departments, for lack of a clear legal basis for national security agencies to cooperate.

"The intelligence law has remedied this, but the legislature still needs time to formulate rules and regulations for the law," he said.

Nobody's above the law

The first episode showed the arrests of Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, both former senior military officials convicted of corruption. Guo and Xu were vice chairmen of the CPC Central Military Commission and members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

The narrator said "for 'black sheep' who disrespect the law or seriously violate the law, no matter how high they are, they will be punished by the law with no mercy."

The anti-corruption campaign used to rely on the leadership's will and political developments rather than the rule of law, which proved to be insufficient. The Party has since been trying to use the rule of law to institutionalize the anti-corruption campaign, said Su Wei, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee.

The Party not only exercises self-discipline and the rule of law within the country, but also promotes overseas law enforcement cooperation to locate fugitives abroad. Yang Xiuzhu, who used to top China's list of 100 most wanted fugitives and on Interpol's "red notice," surrendered in November 2016 after 13 years in hiding.

Over 40 fugitives on the Interpol "red list" have either voluntarily returned or been deported to China, the Ministry of Public Security said.



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