China sums up achievements on legal system in past decade, outlining strength of whole-process people's democracy
Published: Apr 25, 2022 10:19 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Monday summed up China's achievements in building the legal system over the past decade, stressing that the country has seen a significant increase in the number of laws and amendments, and that while the legal system is becoming more complete, whole-process people's democracy has also been brought to the fore in the form of public participation in legislation.  

Experts said that the development of China's legal system reflects the CPC's emphasis on public opinion. Unlike some Western countries, where discussion and consultation lead to division, China's whole-process democracy resolves differences and unites society. 

From the 18th CPC National Congress (November 2012) to the 34th session of the 13th National People's Congress(NPC)Standing Committee that closed on April 20, 2022, the NPC and its Standing Committee have enacted 68 new laws, revised 234 laws and issued nine legislative interpretations, with 292 laws currently in effect, Xu Anbiao, a vice-chairman of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, said at a briefing. 

"Compared with the previous decade, the number of new laws enacted has increased by one-third, the number of laws amended has nearly tripled, and the adoption of decisions on legal issues and major issues has increased by a factor of 1.5," Xu said.  

In the past decade, China introduced its first Civil Code, which took effect in 2021. Basic and comprehensive laws have been enacted in key areas such as cybersecurity, biosecurity, public health and environmental protection.

China has basically formed a national security legal system adapted to the strategic security environment, legislative officials with the NPC Standing Community said on Monday. They said the top legislature has introduced and revised more than 20 laws related to national security, and the enactment of the National Security Law in 2020 has put Hong Kong society back on track.  

Even more noteworthy is the progress China has made in listening to public opinions. Legislative officials said on Monday that public opinions were solicited on 205 draft laws, with more than 1.19 million people participating and 3.5 million comments made over the past decade.  

China's legislation development in the past decade Graphic: Deng Zijun and Xu Zihe/GT

China's legislation development in the past decade Graphic: Deng Zijun and Xu Zihe/GT

Song Luzheng, a research fellow at the China Institute of Fudan University, believes that the improvement in the quantity and quality of China's legislation shows the country attaches great importance to public opinion, and Chinese citizens fully enjoy the right to know about and make suggestions on the formulation and revision of China's laws. 

In March 2011, then Chinese top legislator Wu Bangguo announced that a socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics had been established "on schedule," representing a "major milestone" in history. 

Yang Weidong, a law professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times on Monday that scientific legislation is the key in building a society ruled by law. While the proportion of new laws has increased over the past decade, China has also attached great importance to adapting previous legislation to new situations and requirements. 

The expert said that besides scientific legislation, China also put an emphasis on democratic legislation. "Legislation involves the regulation of interests, so it requires public participation."

Chinese legislative officials said that in the past decade, more than 130 draft laws received comments from the public through 22 legislative contact stations at the community level.  

Taking Suzhou as an example, Yang said that some communities in the East China city even extended the right to make suggestions directly to each household. "By scanning the QR code on their home plate number, a page for proposing legislation will appear."

Yang said that with the development of science and technology, soliciting opinions can be realized through the internet. For some major events, there will be regular in-person symposiums.  

These open and democratic mechanisms have increased the channels and frequency of upward reflection by the people, so that the laws formed and revised are easier for the people to understand and abide by, Yang said. 

However, the lack of heated debate on the surface of these mechanisms has attracted much Western confusion and discredit. Experts said that this is due to the fact that in China, consensus building and legal policy formation are two different stages in the whole-process democracy, while in the West, they are integrated into one.  

Consensus building in China is also a very intense collision of views and interests, and many policies also take a long time to formulate, Song said. "Many of the votes passed easily because the debate was over long before the vote began."  

The draft of China's Property Law began in 1993, and it was not reviewed until December 2002. In 2005, the draft was released to the public to solicit opinions again. It was then reviewed six times and finally passed in 2007 with 2,799 votes in favor, 52 against and 37 abstentions.  

"Some Western media and politicians only saw the high number of votes but failed to see the 14-year democratic search for consensus," Song said.   

"The advantage of China's whole-process democracy lies in its process and results, which do not represent any interest group but the whole nation. So it was able to resolve differences, heal divisions and bring society together," Song said.