Party to address rule of law

By Jiang Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2014-10-17 0:38:02

Fourth session to focus on judicial reform, governance

The upcoming fourth plenary session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) will guide China to the right track of the rule of law, analysts told the Global Times Thursday.

The new session, which will be held from October 20 to 23, is the first time the CPC has had the rule of law as the central theme of its plenary session, as it focused mainly on Party construction and economic development during its previous fourth plenary sessions of CPC Central Committee.

Reforming the judicial system, emphasizing the Constitution and enhancing anti-corruption efforts with law are expected to be the main agenda of the top political meeting, observers predicted.

Members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee have listened to a report about opinions solicited on a draft decision of the CPC Central Committee on major issues concerning comprehensively advancing the rule of law and the draft decision will be submitted for review at the fourth plenary session, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

An anonymous legal expert who is familiar with the draft decision revealed that the draft will cover six aspects, namely the Party's governance style, the authority of the Constitution, promoting reform and government construction under the rule of law, as well as judicial reform and anti-corruption, The Beijing News reported Thursday.

"We have established the authority of the law and it is a time of historic significance to promote the rule of law to the next level," said Yang Weidong, a law professor from the China Academy of Governance.

The rule of law first made it to a central government document in 1997 when the 15th central committee report read that the rule of law is the basic principle to rule the country.

The third plenary session held in November 2013 laid out a blueprint for strengthening the rule of law and it is expected that a detailed decision will come out next week.

"There may be a bold but practical breakthrough in judicial power reform that puts judicial departments under the supervision and management of central power instead of local powers," said Sun Xiaoxia, dean of the law school at Fudan University.

Currently, judicial departments are subject to local government at the same level, including personnel management and funds appropriation, which makes it hard to press for an administrative action, Sun said.

China has vowed to explore a judicial system which makes local courts administered by higher-level judicial bodies rather than local governments, in the decision issued at the third plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee last year and pilot programs have been launched in several regions like Shanghai.

Sun added that an urgent issue is to separate CPC rule on legal construction and administration of justice. "A major change in governance style of the CPC is to be expected [after the meeting], from following the policy or guiding principles to following the law and the Constitution."

Xinhua also published two articles on the authority of the Constitution on Thursday. One of them pointed out that some senior officials lack a constitutional consciousness. "They lack confidence in the Constitution in issues related to national interests and core values, leaving social values in chaos and jeopardizing the authority of the Constitution," it said.

As people are looking forward to the rule of law being  strengthened, experts noted that the rule of law should only be advanced by the rule of the Party and there are CPC fundamentals that should not be overridden. Meanwhile, debates are occurring in the media.

The Red Flag Manuscript, a CPC-owned magazine, published an article last week which said it is wrong to negate or replace the people's democratic dictatorship with the rule of law. The article has generated some controversy as some think the rule of law should be paramount.

The people's democratic dictatorship, one of the key theories of Marxism and one of the CPC's core values, separates China's party system from those of the West, Xinhua said.

"The people's democratic dictatorship is also a part of the concept of the rule of law. Anybody who tries to stop the nation from moving toward a more specific and concrete rule of law will end up in failure," Sun noted.

The Chinese Constitution politically upholds the leadership of the CPC and theoretically adheres to Marxism, and it represents the character and advantage of the Constitution, said Han Dayuan, a law professor of  the Renmin University of China.

The rule of law is "a must" and it should be advanced under the CPC leadership and in line with socialism with Chinese characteristics, a statement by CPC Central Committee Political Bureau said on September 30.

Analysts also pointed out that the session is also expected to bring public power under constraints in accordance with the law to prevent corruption.

President Xi Jinping has previously urged disciplinary watchdogs to combat corruption under the rule of law and called to strengthen legislation on anti-corruption.

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