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The Party’s Leadership Is Essential to the Success of China’s Socialist Legal System

[Editor’s Note: The following article by a Xinhua special commentator reminds people of the relationship between the Communist Party and China’s legal system. Echoing a recent speech by Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the National People’s Congress, the author stressed, “We must resolutely uphold the Party’s leadership.”

The author emphasizes that China’s laws are an expression of the Party’s ideas, and he vows to use legislation to “transform the Party’s ideas into the national will and the common code of conduct for the entire society.”

Following this logic, legislation is but a tool for the Party, “We must enact legislation that serves the big picture of the Party and the State’s work plan, and ensures that the Party and the State’s imperative decisions are executed”] [1]

In his report at the Fourth Session of the Eleventh National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo said the goal of establishing a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics by the year of 2010, which had been proposed by the Fifteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China, had been met. Wu elaborated on the significance of such a legal system. Of the five most important principles that Wu summarized, upholding the Party’s leadership was the first.

Wu Bangguo highlighted “Party leadership” as the primary principle, explaining that, from the legislative point of view, the Party plays the leading role in China. He emphasized that we must resolutely uphold the Party’s leadership in order to continue to advance the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

China’s Constitution specifically provides for the promotion of harmonious development of material civilization, political civilization, and spiritual civilization under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for Chinese people of all ethnic groups. The nation’s fundamental and supreme law clearly lays out the crucial role of CCP leadership in the economic, political, and social life of the Chinese people. This is the inevitable result of CCP leadership among all ethnic groups in the process of building socialism with Chinese characteristics over the past 60 years; it reflects the common aspirations of all Chinese people. Party leadership guarantees that the people are the masters of the country and that the country is ruled by law. It also fundamentally guarantees a strong democratic legal system and legislative efficiency.

The hard work and great practice in promoting national, economic, and social development and exploring the law as a fundamental strategy enabled the Chinese people under the CCP’s leadership to establish China’s socialist legal system. It is the result of the great effort and wisdom of several generations of Communists. From the early days of the New China’s “Common Program” to the first Constitution and other important laws; from the Constitution amended by the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of CCP to the development of many laws related to the socialist market economy; from the fundamental strategy of building a socialist country ruled by laws proposed during the Party’s Fifteenth National Congress to the establishment of the overall legislative working objective to form a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics; from the policy of strengthening the creation of legislation and improving the quality of the Party’s Sixteenth National Congress’s proposed legislation to including the clauses that “the state respects and safeguards human rights” and “citizens’ lawful private property is inviolable” in the Constitution, the history of the development of the socialist democratic legal system clearly shows that a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics cannot exist without the CCP’s correct and strong leadership.

Such a legal system relies on Deng Xiaoping’s Theory and the important ideas in the “Three Represents” as its guide; thoroughly implements the scientific concepts of development; and adheres to the combination of the Party’s leadership, the people as the masters, and ruling the nation by law. It embodies the Party’s concept of governance according to the law and has the distinct and essential socialist nature with Chinese characteristics.

The practice of building the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics proved that we must uphold the Party’s leadership in the legislative process. We must make legislation serve the big picture of the Party and the State’s work plan, and ensure that the Party and State’s imperative decisions are executed.

Our Party and state have developed different priorities and plans in different historical periods. We must embody these priorities and plans in legislation. We must develop a scientific legislative plan and program in accordance with the Party’s principles. The plan should fully implement the Party’s decisions and intent. Through legislative procedures, we should transform the Party’s decisions and plans into the national will in order to gather people’s power all across the country to promote our nation’s economic and social development.

In 2002, the CCP’s Sixteenth National Congress set the following goals: build a more prosperous society in the first 20 years of this century, strengthen our legislative work, and improve the quality of our legislation. Accordingly, the Tenth National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee laid out as objectives the building of a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, the need to focus on the quality of legislation, and the priority of developing laws that support our legal system, all of which are urgently needed in real life and are mature legislative conditions. They introduced and modified a large number of important laws, steadily pushed the legislative work forward, built a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics by 2010, and realized the Party’s goal for legislative work.

In order to sustain the Party’s leadership in the legislative process, we must correctly handle the relationship between the Party’s leadership and the Party’s activities under the Constitution and the law, and reflect the Party’s nature as the ruling party in the area of law.

The Party’s leadership in legislative work is reflected primarily in political, ideological, and organizational leadership, through the development of major policies, legislative proposals, officials’ recommendations for important positions, conducting ideological propaganda, ensuring the active role of the Party organizations’ members, ruling the nation according to the law, and implementing the Party’s leadership of the nation and of society, in order to transform the Party’s ideas into the national will and the common code of conduct for the entire society. Meanwhile, the Party’s Constitution clearly stipulates: “The Party’s activities should be within the scope allowed by the Constitution and other laws,” which indicates that no Party organizations or members enjoy special powers above the Constitution and the law. Article V of the Constitution states, “All state agencies and armed forces, all political parties and social organizations, enterprises, and institutions must abide by the Constitution and the law.” Here the word “parties” includes the Communist Party. We should adhere to the Party’s leadership in the legislative system’s development, while promoting the Party’s activities within the scope allowed by the Constitution and other laws. We must combine the two in order to ensure the smooth process of reform and the opening up and socialist modernization under the Party’s leadership.

China has entered its twelfth “Five-Year” planning period, and the Party’s Central Committee declared that we should firmly seize the strategic opportunity, ensure that scientific development makes significant progress, and achieve major improvement in economic development. Our legislative work should focus on the big picture of the Party and State work plan, determine the goals for economic and social development under the guidance of the twelfth “Five-Year” Plan, provide strong and effective legal protection in order to accelerate the transformation of economic development, and promote scientific development, so that everyone shares the benefits of reform and development.

We must insist that the people be the masters. We should actively search for new ways for the public to participate in the legislative process, collecting opinions and suggestions from all levels, especially the grassroots level of society, through hearings, feasibility studies, seminars, and the Internet. We should promote scientific and democratic legislation, monitor our legislative work with people’s assent and satisfaction level in mind, and garner solid public support for our legal system in order to ensure the strength and vitality of the law.

There is no end to social development, just as there is no end to the development of the legal system. The formation of a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics will guarantee the success of development of a socialist country ruled by laws. We must adapt to new changes in society and new expectations on the part of the populace, adhere to the Party’s leadership as a fundamental policy, promote timely legislation, and make sure that there are laws to follow, that all laws will be followed, that laws are enforced strictly, and that illegal activities will be punished. The development of a socialist, democratic legal system will bring China into a new situation of scientific development.

[1] Xinhua, “The Party’s Leadership Is Essential to the Success of China’s Socialist Legal System,” March 15, 2011.