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Official: Enactment of emergency law urgent
Updated: 2004-05-18 11:11

The enactment of an emergency law is extremely urgent in China, as the country's emergency legislation and regulations were lagging far behind, said Cao Kangtai, director of the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, in Beijing on Monday.

Speaking at the fifth Sino-Germany law forum, Cao said China has made remarkable progress in emergency-related legislation. According to preliminary statistics, China has set up 35 laws, 36 administrative regulations, 55 department rules and 111 documents for emergency handling.

"However, the country's emergency-related laws and regulations are lagging far behind, compared with its fast economic and social development. It is an urgent task to improve emergency-related legislation," he said.

He noted that with the approval of the draft amendment to the Constitution during the second plenary session of the 10th National People's Congress in early March, the concept of "state of emergency" has been established in the Constitution, which paved the way for the enactment of an emergency law.

Cao said the emergency law should guarantee the government effectively exerts power for people's legitimate rights in the state of emergency, while at the same time it should prevent administrative bodies from power abuse.

He also stressed that the emergency law should strike a balance between citizens' rights and duties in the state of emergency. The law should clearly define the basic rights which citizens and organizations could enjoy in the state of emergency, while regulating that citizens and organizations must submit to government measures in the state of emergency.

The drafting of the emergency law has been listed as one of the 76 laws in the 10th NPC's five-year legislation plan.

Professor Li Shuguang, of the China University of Political Science and Law, said previously that martial law is normally enforced in a situation in which severe turbulence or turmoil threatens the country's stability and unification, or the safety of life and property. However, the enforcement domain of the emergency law is much wider, as it not only includes social turbulence, but war, natural disasters, public sanitation and economic crises.

Although China now has a Martial Law, National Defense Law and Flood Control Law, as well as an Earthquake Control and Disaster Relief Law, which lay out counter-measures for different emergency situations, the country still lacks a comprehensive emergency law, Li said.

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