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ID card law to protect citizenship
( 2003-06-30 09:41) (China Daily)

The rights of citizens will be better protected while the power of public security authorities will be more restricted under a new law on identity cards.

The law on ID cards of residents - approved on Saturday - maintains a good balance between the administrative function of public security and the protection of citizens' rights, said Yu An, an administrative professor with the Law School of Tsinghua University.

According to the law, no organization or individual has the right to check or seize a citizen's ID card.

The exception is the police, who must hold good reasons and keep confidential any personal information obtained from the ID card.

The new law will take effect from January 1.

"It appears to be good news for people like me," said Xiao Zhou, a farmer of East China's Anhui Province who is working in Beijing for a local construction company.

Xiao has to carry his ID card every day in case it will be checked by the police.

Under the new law, Chinese mainland citizens under the age of 16 will be eligible for ID cards that are valid for five years. Responsibility for applying for the cards lies with their guardians.

This will make it easier for minors to open a bank account, catch a plane or perform other tasks that require identification.

"It could be regarded as a measure to enlarge personal rights for citizens under 16," Yu said.

Lawmakers also endorsed another two laws on ports and prevention and control of radioactive pollution on Saturday before wrapping up their latest session.

In his closing remarks, top legislator Wu Bangguo called for more effective publicity of legal issues and education to enhance public awareness of the rule of law.

"Legislation should and must be the basis of the rule of law, the benchmark for administration by law and judicial fairness as well as a code of conduct for the whole society," said Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislative body.

He urged all related departments to have a down-to-earth attitude and find more effective and creative means to promote awareness of the legal system.

Wu stressed priority should be given to improving the legal knowledge of government officials, especially leading officials at all levels.

Enhanced legal awareness and the ability to work according to law among all officials should serve as the basis for administrative departments to administer by law and the judicial bodies to ensure fairness, he said.

Wu said social practice is the best way to enhance public awareness of legal issues, citing the wide publicity of the Law on Prevention and Control of Contagious Diseases during the nation's fight against SARS.

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