Law revision to enhance governance, supervision
Important part of establishing a law-based government
Published: Mar 06, 2024 09:57 PM
Two Sessions Photo:Xinhua

Two Sessions Photo:Xinhua

Chinese lawmakers started deliberating a draft revision to the Organic Law of the State Council on Tuesday. This marks the first revision of the law, which was adopted in December 1982 when the country's current Constitution was formulated.

Chinese experts believe that the revision to the law will help standardize the operation of the State Council and improve its scientific and democratic level.

The law has played a significant role in ensuring that the State Council performs its duties in accordance with the Constitution and other laws, said Li Hongzhong, vice chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, when explaining the bill at the opening meeting of the second session of the 14th NPC.

Revising the law is a necessary step for the State Council to uphold the Communist Party of China (CPC)'s overall leadership and strengthen the all-around improvement of the government, said Li, adding that it provides an institutional guarantee for the State Council to adhere to its people-centered principle and its fundamental purpose of wholeheartedly serving the people.

The draft revision is an important part of the efforts to fully implement and enforce the Constitution and establish a law-based government, as well as an effective measure to reform Party and state institutions and modernize the country's system and capacity for governance, according to Li.

The draft revision, which contains 20 articles, includes provisions concerning the nature and position of the State Council per the Constitution, which stipulates that the State Council, namely, the Central People's Government, is the executive organ of the highest state organ of power, and is the highest state administrative organ.

The draft explicitly outlines the State Council's commitment to building a law-based, innovation-driven, and service-oriented government of integrity, among other things.

It also refines the expressions regarding the functions and powers of the State Council.

The draft adds a provision that the State Council exercises unified leadership over the work of local state administrative organs at all levels nationwide, which some Chinese experts regard as a key emendation. 

The revision to the law grants the State Council the exercise of unified leadership over local state administrative organs, which is compatible with the country's current entire system of state power operation, said Zhuang Deshui, deputy director of the Research Center for Government Integrity-Building at Peking University.

This can help all local administrative organs better implement the policies of the central government and fulfill their responsibilities, he explained.

The draft revises provisions on the members of the State Council, further clarifying the duties of vice premiers and state councilors, and also adds the governor of the People's Bank of China as a member of the State Council. 

Zhuang pointed out that this emendation can improve the administrative status of the governor of the People's Bank of China and encourage it to better participate in decision-making within the State Council. It is also conducive to the implementation of the central government's financial policies, ensuring financial security and strengthening supervision over the financial sector.

It also modifies provisions governing the State Council's departments and their duties and powers, and improves the meeting system of the State Council.

The draft adds that matters discussed and decided at plenary and executive meetings of the State Council shall be disclosed in a timely manner, except those that require confidentiality according to law. 

In the past, we had the Regulations of the PRC on Disclosure of Government Information. 

Now, this amendment clarifies the timely disclosure of government affairs after the decision is made, reflecting the spirit of democratic supervision, Zhuang noted.

In addition, the draft revision introduces systems and measures to ensure that the State Council exercises its functions in full and in accordance with the law.  

However, a few foreign media outlets misinterpreted the draft revision, claiming it aims to consolidate central power.

Zhuang rejected this rhetoric, stressing that those foreign media outlets misread both the connotations and denotations of the revision.

From the perspective of organizational structure, the revision can better allow the State Council to play its role, perform its duties and operate scientifically. Regulating the functions and operation of Party and government organs at all levels through the rule of law is a significant achievement we have made since the 18th CPC National Congress. This is expected to improve the scientific and democratic level of the State Council's operation as well as the Party leadership, according to the expert.