Out of social strain, China urges rule of law

Updated: 2010-11-10 07:41

(China Daily)

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BEIJING - China has moved to speed up the building of a clean government ruled by law as part of its efforts to defuse social strain unleashed by its rapid economic growth and maintain a harmonious social order.

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The Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, or the Cabinet, issued a guideline on Monday focusing on creating a government ruled by law, which requires officials and government staff to improve their ability to address "prominent problems" through legal means. The public was invited to participate in formulating the legislation.

According to a statement issued with the guideline, the State Council said it was "imperative" to build a government ruled by law, as China now faces serious challenges, including uneven development in urban and rural areas, a widening income gap that has contributed to increasing social conflict, as well as corruption and injustice in some areas of law enforcement.

The guideline stipulates that a particular proposal must be legitimately previewed before it is submitted to a higher authority for consideration, especially in cases where social stability, environmental protection and the economy are under evaluation.

It also requires government officials to forecast the risks involved in enacting a proposal and work out a plan to address potential problems that may arise as a result of its implementation.

"With the announcement, the government has clearly signaled its positive attitude and determination to address the abuse of power and improve the administrative system," Yao Zhongqiu, a researcher at the Beijing-based Unirule Institute of Economics, told China Daily on Tuesday.

"Despite issuing the guideline, the central government has a lot to do to ensure its policy is properly implemented at local levels," Yao said.

According to the guideline, the central government also requires officials to follow up on policies that have been implemented, to accept public supervision of their work and to seek to avoid unjust law enforcement measures.

"Authorities have to investigate and punish cases that run counter to the country's mandate for food safety, the protection of natural resources and the environment, as well as public security," the guideline said.

The guideline also states that officials who perform their duties according to the law or are skillful at legally resolving disputes are more likely to be promoted.

At the same time, government officials will be held accountable for malfeasance or failure to fulfill their duty in major accidents or cases that are in serious violation of the law.

The call for stronger rule of law underscores the challenges China faces following a recent number of mass incidents involving relocation and forced demolition.

"Sometimes an individual's interests are at odds with the goal of socio-economic development. To better address these cases, the government should establish a mechanism to safeguard people's rights," Yao said.

"The State Council still has a great deal to achieve by endorsing specific regulations to provide guidance to local governments," he said.

To facilitate the creation of a clean and transparent government, the guideline requires all government information, aside from that involved in State, commercial or private secrets, to be open to the public.

Government departments are also required to reply to public requests for the release of government information in a timely manner and improve their methods of handling government affairs.

Xinhua - China Daily