Fourth plenum to focus on rule of law

By Yang Jingjie Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-3 0:33:01

Expected to guarantee future economic reforms

The upcoming Party plenum is expected to specify and foster implementation of a major reform package rolled out a year ago, with the rule of law, which analysts say holds the key to almost all challenges confronting China, named the major focus.

The more than 200 members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee will convene in Beijing in October for their annual meeting to steer the country's political path.

A meeting of the central leadership in late July highlighted the importance of "ruling the country with laws," and named it the top agenda of the Fourth Plenary Meeting of the 18th CPC Central Committee.

The rule of law formally appeared on the top agenda of the CPC after China's reform and opening-up in the late 1970s, and was listed as one of the major goals for the country's political reform at a Party plenum in 1995.

Although China has been marching toward this goal over the past three decades, the pace slowed after the new millennium.

A comprehensive reform package released after the 2013 Party plenum reiterated the vow to push for the rule of law.

"The upcoming plenum aims to forge consensus among the Party over the follow-up measures to implement last year's guidance and form a formal decision [on the push for rule of law]," Yan Jirong, head of the political department at the School of Government affiliated to Peking University, told the Global Times Tuesday.

Xie Chuntao, a professor specializing in Party history at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said the rule of law's resurgence to the Party's top agenda is a result of grave pressure exerted by problems challenging the country.

It is believed that corruption, labor disputes, pollution, land seizures and food safety problems all point to the urgent need to improve regulation and implementation.

The announcement for the fourth plenum's opening came simultaneously with the announcement of the official investigation into the "severe disciplinary violations" of Zhou Yongkang, who chaired the Committee of Political and Legal Affairs under the CPC Central Committee from 2007-12.

It is still unknown whether any conclusion about the probe into Zhou's case will be announced at the plenum.

Discussion over the transformation of the role played by the Committee of Political and Legal Affairs is also expected to be one of the possible topics at the plenum.

Zheng Yongnian, a professor from the National University of Singapore, last month wrote in an opinion piece in the Singapore-based Chinese language Lianhe Zaobao newspaper, that the committee should transform from a mechanism for maintaining stability to one that promotes legal construction.

"The key is to rebuild the judiciary's authority by promoting professionalism, curbing corruption and minimizing administrative influence," said Yan.

In addition to the expected focus on the rule of law, the plenum is also going to specify measures to promote the market's decisive role in resource allocation and the delegation of government power under the framework of last year's reform package, noted Jiang Yong, a research fellow with the Beijing-based National Strategic Research Center.

According to an August report from security brokerage firm Guotai Jun'an Securities, while the plenum's likely focus will not be on economic affairs, the meeting is expected to significantly reinforce the central leadership's authority through the discussion of the rule of law with regard to the economy.

"It will provide strong political guarantee for future economic reforms," said the company.

A series of laws and regulations on budget, consumption duty and taxation are also expected as a result of reinforced legal governance, said Guotai.

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