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Lawmakers listen to people
YINCHUAN: Lawmakers in this western city have begun to hear public opinion on proposed legislation, the latest instance of Chinese local legislatures' drive to reflect the public's interests.
Provincial and provincial capital legislatures are constitutionally entitled to enact statutes in accordance with laws enacted by the National People's Congress to regulate local authority affairs.
Over the years, however, bills have been drawn up by government departments or groups of elite experts or officials, ignoring public opinions.
The trend is being reversed as most local legislatures open to grass-roots public opinion.
The People's Congress of Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, published ads on the top of page two of a major local newspaper to invite opinion, saying, "An interest in legislation is an interest in yourselves."
Li Zhi, a migrant worker from the southern mountainous region of Ningxia, said, "I see it's in our interest to care about making laws." Li was waiting in the corridor outside the office of the law committee of the congress to submit his suggestions on migrant workers' incomes and compensation for injuries at work.
"Though most provincial capital legislatures have done the same, what we are doing is significant for our city," said Yu Tong, director of the law committee of the congress. Yinchuan was relatively small and economically underdeveloped.
"What we do indicates that this practice has been implemented everywhere in the country and shows we respect local people's will," Yu added.
In major Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, it has been a common practice and usually compulsory for legislatures to hear public ideas about lawmaking.
Huang Shaohua, professor of social sciences at Lanzhou University, said, "Special interest groups have formed as the reforms deepen and the market economy progresses. They hope their specific interests and wishes are reflected in law."
The Chinese have become greatly concerned about lawmaking after years of promotion of the concept of the rule of law.
With the mechanism to fully express opinions, local legislation would cater to public demand and find effectual solutions to social issues, Huang said.
Since it began soliciting public opinion, the People's Congress of Yinchuan has received 16 legislative suggestions on city management, road transport, food safety and education, said Li Zu, staff member with the law committee.