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White paper on political democracy
Updated: 2005-10-19 11:01

IX. Government Democracy

The Chinese government is the government of the people. The fundamental purpose of the entire work of the Chinese government is to serve the people, be responsible to the people, and support and guarantee the people's right as the masters of the state. Since the adoption of the reform and opening-up policies, especially in recent years, governments at all levels have, in line with the requirements of democratic rule and centering on the goal of "forming an administrative management system that is standard in conduct, coordinated in cooperation, and being fair, transparent, honest and efficient," energetically augmented the building of their capability of administration. In February 2005, the Working Rules of the State Council were revamped and announced, fully reflecting the spirit of democracy that encourages scientific and democratic decision-making, administration in accordance with the law and the strengthening of administrative supervision.

(1) Promoting Administration in Accordance with the Law

In November 1999, the State Council promulgated the Decision on Pushing Forward Administration by Law in an All-Round Way, and identified the tasks and req uirements with regard to rule by law. In March 2004, it issued the Implementation Outline for Pushing Forward Administration by Law in an All-Round Way, and announced the goal of basically realizing a law-abiding government in 10 years. On July 1, 2004, the Law of the People's Republic of China on Administrative Licensing went into effect. Under the principle of "rational and legal, efficient and convenient for the people, and supervision and responsibility," the law sets a series of principles and systems for administrative licensing, and, while requiring the government to administer according to law, highlights the major contents of democracy in the government's exercise of power.

- Strengthening the legislation work of the government. Since 1978, the State Council has submitted to the Standing Committee of the NPC several hundred bills for deliberation according to law, formulated more than 650 administrative regulations that are still in effect today. In recent years, the Chinese government has persisted in putting the people first and governing for the people, set great store by legislation directly related to the immediate interests of the people, and promoted the coordinated development of economic and social undertakings in an all-round way. The State Council has submitted to the NPC Standing Committee a number of bills for deliberation, including the Production Safety Law (draft), the Law on Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases (revised draft) and the Law on Civil Servants (draft), promulgated or amended such administrative regulations as the Regulations on Unemployment Insurance, the Regulations on Guarantee of Minimum Subsistence Allowances for Urban Residents, the Regulations on Labor Security Supervision, the Regulations on Religious Affairs, the Regulations on Industrial Injury Insurance, the Methods on the Aid to and Management of Indigent Vagrants and Beggars in Cities, the Regulations on Marriage Registration, the Regulations on Legal Aid, and the Regulations on the Implementation of the Law on Road Traffic Safety. The care shown for disadvantaged people are fully reflected in such legislation, showing the government's humanistic concern in administration. In 2005, once again the State Council amended and promulgated the Regulations on Letters of Petition and Personal Petition, which protects in accordance with the law the rights of citizens to criticism, suggestion, appeal, accusation and impeachment, emphasizes the responsibilities of the government departments in charge, and gives prominence to the spirit of "unification of power and responsibility, open operation to facilitate petitioning and guarantee of the rights of citizens."

- Improving administrative enforcement of the law. The Chinese government stresses exercising powers and functions strictly in line with the legal limits of authority and legal procedures, introduces in an all-round way the responsibility system in administrative enforcement of law, strictly investigates and affixes the responsibility for mistakes in law enforcement, constantly strengthens the law enforcers' sense of administration in accordance with the law, and reduces and eventually eliminates acts of enforcing law at liberty. In the course of enforcing the law, attention has been placed on protecting the legitimate rights and interests of the parties concerned and the parties of interest, and on resolutely rectifying misconduct that encroaches on the interests of the people, abuse of power for personal gain and other breaches of the law, so as to ensure that the laws are enforced in a strict, just and civilized manner. Over the past few years, the government has made sincere efforts to rectify illegal administrative acts of infringements on people's rights in the work of demolition and relocation in cities and land expropriation and requisition in rural areas.

- Improving the systems of administrative supervision. While accepting the supervision of the NPC, CPPCC, judicial organs, public opinion and the masses, the Chinese government has established and improved a set of systems of administrative supervision. The first is the system geared to tracking down the responsibility for erroneous administrative decisions. Based on the principle of "he who makes the decision will be held responsible," where massive losses are caused because of stepping beyond the bounds of one's power or because of violation of procedures, the decision-makers shall be held strictly accountable. The second is the introduction of the system of affixing administrative responsibilities, under which government officials are held responsible if their administrative conduct violates the law. The third is the implementation of the administrative review system and the filing and examination system of regulations and regulatory documents so as to promptly and effectively ensure that subordinate departments and governments act in accordance with the law. The fourth is strengthening supervision by auditing and monitoring organs. The National Audit Office is empowered to conduct careful auditing of the implementation of the central financial budget and other financial revenues and expenditures before making relevant reports to the NPC Standing Committee and the State Council, and made penalty decisions for the violation of financial laws and regulations. China decided in 2005 to enlarge the auditing of economic responsibilities to all leading cadres at department (bureau) level while continuing a similar practice among provincial-level (ministerial-level) officials.