Spotlight: China's pursuit of rule of law wins world recognition

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-10-23 8:40:10

The latest gravity assigned by the Communist Party of China (CPC) to advance the rule of law in China in an all-round manner has been hailed by political and academic figures in the West.

"I am glad that China is giving prominence to the discussion of the rule of law," said Charles Powell, former private secretary to late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during the 1980s.

"It is a positive step," Powell told Xinhua while talking about the ongoing fourth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee.

For the first time in the party's history, the plenum was devoted to the central theme of rule of law, the cornerstone of the modernization of China's state governing system and capabilities.

"I do believe that will be essential as the Chinese economy becomes more sophisticated, so the need for the rule of law becomes even greater," said Powell who was former chairman of the China-Britain Business Council and now sits on the House of Lords.

"I think it will give people a lot of confidence in China, if they know the courts are independent, reach their judgments independently, and all institutions of the state and the party are subject to that same rule of law," the seasoned politician said.

In view of China's booming economy, Powell said: "It is a phenomenon in every society that as it becomes more prosperous, people want a bigger say in how they run their lives."

Since China has embarked on the process, it is impossible to turn back, Powell stressed.

"I am sure that is now what China is now trying to do by tackling legal reform. It is trying to bring the legal, judicial system into a proper balance with the ambitions and hopes of its people," he said.

Even though it is not easy to do, Powell noted, the process is under way, which is the most important thing.

Under the Chinese Constitution, the rule of law will not only constrain power but also protect people's rights and interests to ensure maximum fairness and justice.

Etienne Reuter, director at Elliott Consultants Ltd. in Brussels, said the phrase of rule of law is not new in the CPC's official discourse, but it has new implications given today's new circumstances.

"The opening and transformation of China's economy following Deng Xiaoping's four modernizations has entered a new phase requiring greater environmental sustainability and social inclusiveness. The people of China aspire for a better quality of life and a fairer society."

"In this respect, the rule of law provides the essential underpinning for combating pollution and degradation of the environment as well as for the fight against corruption," Reuter said.

The CPC's defense of the rule of law not only benefits the Chinese society but also those who want to do business with China and in China, he said.

"Economic reforms will require a new approach to structures such as the state-owned enterprises, the banking system and relations between the central and local authorities. The rule of law should ensure a fair arbitration between the various interests," he added.

Paul Gewirtz, professor of law and director of the China Center at Yale Law School, wrote in an opinion piece on The New York Times: "There are reasons for a measure of optimism that the plenum will demonstrate more complex views about the roles law can play and also take meaningful steps to advance new legal reforms."

The current leadership has already signed onto many reforms and even adjustments in ideology that represent positive steps toward a modern system of rule of law, said Gewirtz.

"These changes aren't just window-dressing; they reflect the leadership's recognition that it needs to improve governance, address widespread public grievances, and respond to public opinion," said Gewirtz.

On the CPC's intensified effort to combat corruption, Powell deemed the move as "very necessary" and "very popular."

"If the party could not clean up its own act and deal with people who have corrupted its own ranks, then its chances of leading China would be greatly diminished, so it is clearly the right thing to do."

"If corruption can be greatly reduced in China, the country will be stronger, the party will be stronger, and the whole system will be better, providing a better life for its people and the better functioning of the economy," said Powell.

Posted in: Politics

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