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Amended law signals wider legal reform

By Zhang Yi (China Daily)

Updated: 2015-03-17 08:19:57


Fact box

Major changes under the amended law

1. Setting limits on government power Any extra legal burdens imposed must now be set out in a written law. The amendment allows local governments to formulate regulations that increase the legal obligations on citizens "if and when required by the local government" but orders local governments to propose new laws to the local people's congresses or their standing committees. If local regulations remain in place for two years they will be placed on the statute books.

2. Delegation of legislative power The law extends legislative power to 282 cities from 49, but reduces the scope and only allows them to make local laws focusing on "rural and urban development and management, environmental protection, and preservation of historical heritage and cultural values".

3. No taxation without written laws The amended law underlines the principle of statutory taxation, and emphasizes that taxes, and the rates at which they are levied, must be endorsed by law.

Voices from two sessions

I'm delighted to see the progress of the rule of law through the amendment to the Legislation Law. The revisions stipulate that a mechanism, especially an online platform, must be established to solicit public opinion when laws are being made, and that the top legislative body should be responsive to public opinion. The lawmaking process will be conducted in a more scientific and efficient manner.

Zhou Guangquan, an NPC deputy and a law professor at Tsinghua University

Statutory taxation was written into the amendment of the Legislation Law, and is hard-won progress by all deputies to the congress. I hope efforts will be made to ensure the tax rate is written into the law and I believe it should be specifically stipulated instead of being outlined in general terms.

Zhao Dongling, an NPC deputy and scriptwriter

I have been calling for greater legislative powers for cities with lower-level administrative districts. Kaifeng, a city with 247 sites of historical interest, urgently needs to make laws on the protection of heritage. I hope the National People's Congress will soon grant Kaifeng the power to make local laws.

Ji Bingwei, an NPC deputy and Party chief of Kaifeng, Henan province

Supervision of unconstitutional laws should be strengthened because a larger number of cities are set to be given the power to enact local laws. If that doesn't happen, laws relating to subjects that overlap are likely to contradict each other.

Zhang Qianhong, an NPC deputy and vice-president of Zhengzhou University

China has 56 ethnic groups and each has their own unique customs. Laws at the national level are often too general for the management of local affairs. Meanwhile, a supervision system must be set up to ensure that local laws will not contradict the Constitution or laws at the national level.

Zhu Jingwen, a law professor at Renmin University of China in Beijing

The legislative power of the NPC and the people's congresses at lower levels have been shelved since the 1950s. Government departments have been in charge of legislation because of the ambiguous items in the Legislation Law, but the revisions will restore legislative authority to the congresses.


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