The country's top legislature Sunday promised to make all draft laws public to give people more say in formulating legislation.
"In principle, all draft laws submitted to the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee for review will be released in full text to solicit public opinions," the NPC Standing Committee announced.
"The draft laws will be published on our official website (www.npc.gov.cn). If they're closely related to the interests of the people, the drafts will also be published on major newspapers," the Committee said.
True to form, the draft food safety law, aimed at raising standards and regulating supervision, was made public yesterday.
The law was tabled for first review at the NPC Standing Committee last December.
The public can either mail their comments and suggestions to the NPC Standing Committee or visit the official website to leave ideas before May 20, according to the Committee.
It is not the first time the NPC Standing Committee has publicized draft laws, but the move to make it a regular practice is a significant development.
In the past five years, the NPC Standing Committee has published full texts of the draft property, employment promotion and labor contract laws, as well as a draft amendment to the Law on Prevention and Control of Water Pollution to solicit opinions.
But during the same period, more than 70 laws were passed.
"To make such publication a regular practice grants the public a greater say in legislation," Shen Chunyao, deputy director of the legislative affairs commission of the NPC Standing Committee, said.
"Open and transparent legislation can better ensure the public's right to know, participate, express and supervise," he said. "More importantly, people can have a better understanding of the new laws when they participate in legislation."
The latest decision by the NPC Standing Committee was also a response to a call by the NPC Standing Committee Chairman Wu Bangguo to "further expand the participation of ordinary citizens in legislative work".
Wu said in March during a report to the first full session of the 11th NPC that laws closely tied to the interests of the people must be made public, and public hearings and debates must be held to allow in-depth deliberation on highly technical or complicated laws.
Members of the public hailed the development, saying more transparent legislation will ensure new laws better express the people's common wishes.
"I did submit my opinion while the draft labor contract law was soliciting comments," Zhu Deming, a worker in Nanjing, said.
"I think publishing all draft laws is a good idea. If we don't agree with any stipulations, we can ask for a change before they become law. Otherwise, we have to be forced to accept them."
NPC figures show that the people are eager to take part in the legislation process. The draft labor contract law elicited a record 191,849 suggestions in just 30 days.
Zhu said he hopes to receive feedback on his suggestions from legislators.
"If we don't have feedback or our calls for amendments always result in vain, we may not have the passion to continue," he said.