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New licensing law gets unprecedented attention
By Meng Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-01 01:27

The government has made unprecedented preparations for the enforcement of the Law on Administrative Licensing which comes into force Thursday.

"I have rarely seen any law receiving so much attention from the government," said Yu An, a professor of administrative law with the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University.

Administrative licensing refers to the formal granting of legal permission for individuals or corporations to engage in special activities which are mainly business related. It is a major government function exercised by authorities at all levels.

However, overuse of licensing powers has resulted in infringements on the rights of individuals and corporations and hampered the country's efforts to build a market economy.

The law, passed by the top legislative body last August, aims to guarantee the reasonable use of administrative licensing powers, protect the interests of individuals and corporations and promote efficient administrative management.

The new law will take away many licensing rights from government departments, he said.

The State Council started streamlining administrative licensing in 2001 when the draft of the new legislation was still under discussion by legal experts.

Since then, nearly half of the country's 3,900 items that need licensing have been axed.

The State Council is expected to release a list of licensing items that the country will retain. Licenses not on the list and without any other legal basis will be illegal. People or business ordered to pay illegal licenses will be able to sue administrative bodies.

Ying Songnian, professor and director of the Division of Law of the National School of Administration, said it is not easy for the government to determine if a licensing item is necessary.

The State Council asked the administrative bodies to resort to legal experts during the process, Yu said.

Ying said publicity of the law is also tremendous.

"Almost every government official above county level has received training on this legislation," he said.

All vice-ministers and vice-governors in charge of legal affairs across the country received four days of training at Ying's school earlier this year.

Ying said such high-profile training on a particular law is rare.

"The governments at all levels have fully understood the important role the law will play in building a law-based administration through this preparation process," Ying said.

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