The Socialist System of Laws with Chinese Characteristics
III. Features of the Socialist System of Laws with Chinese Characteristics
The differences between countries in their historical and cultural traditions, actual situations and paths of development, their social, political and economic systems determine that their systems of laws have different features. The socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics is the concentrated reflection of the institutionalization and codification of China’s practice in its economic and social development since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, and especially in the past 30-odd years since the adoption of the reform and opening up policy. As an important component of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, it has distinct features.
1. The socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics embodies the essential requirements of socialism with Chinese characteristics
The nature of a country’s legal system depends on the nature of its social system established in law. China is a socialist country under the people’s democratic dictatorship, led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants. In the primary stage of socialism, China practices a basic economic system with public ownership as the mainstay and the joint development of diverse forms of ownership, which determines that China’s legal institutions are bound to be socialist ones and that China’s legal system is bound to be a socialist one with Chinese characteristics. All legal norms covered in and all legal institutions established by the socialist legal system contribute to consolidating and developing socialism, reflect the people’s common aspirations, safeguard their fundamental interests and make sure that the people are the masters of their own country. China proceeds from the essential requirement of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the will and long-term interests of the people in making its laws and determining the relevant provisions. The aim and outcome of all the work of the state are to realize, safeguard and expand the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people.
2. Socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics meets the demand of the reform, opening up and socialist modernization of the current times
The most salient characteristic of this new period in China is reform and opening up. The socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics comes into existence and develops along with reform and opening up, and they complement each other. The establishment of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics is the inherent requirement for the progress of reform, opening up and socialist modernization. It is carried out on the basis of in-depth analysis of those practices. At the same time, the establishment of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics provides a favorable legal environment for reform, opening up and socialist modernization, and serves as a good regulator, guide, guarantee and impetus for the latter. Meanwhile, by appropriately handling the relationship between the stability of law and the mobility of reform, the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics reflects the successful practice of reform, opening up and modernization, and leaves enough space for their future development.
3. The socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics reflects the requirements of an inherently unified and structurally multilevel legal system
The constitution of a country’s legal system is determined by its legal traditions, political and legislative systems, and other factors. China is a united multi-ethnic country as well as a state with a unified governmental system. Due to historical reasons, economic and social development is unbalanced among different regions. To accommodate the requirements of this national condition, the Constitution and laws define the unified and multilevel structure of China’s legislative system with Chinese characteristics, which further determines the inherently unified and structurally multilevel feature of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics. It reflects the inner logic of the legal system itself, and conforms to China’s national conditions and practices. Therefore, the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics is headed by the Constitution, composed of multilevel legal norms, including laws, administrative and local regulations. The legal norms are laid down by various legislative bodies according to their respective legislative competence prescribed by the Constitution and laws. They have different legal effect, but together constitute the scientific, harmonious and unified whole of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics as its organic parts.
4. The socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics meets the cultural demand of carrying forward the fine traditions of Chinese legal culture and drawing on the achievements of human legal civilizations
All countries base and develop their legal systems on their historical and cultural traditions, and actual social conditions, and their legal systems’ communication and exchange with and learning from each other as economic globalization deepens. The constitution of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics is always based on China’s national conditions, combining the inheritance of historical traditions, the introduction of the fruits of other civilizations with system innovations. It attaches great importance to the inheritance of fine traditional legal culture, carries out system innovations according to the requirements of reform, opening up and socialist modernization, thus realizing the integration of traditional culture and modern civilization; at the same time, it studies and draws on the good legislative experience of other countries and learns from their legislative achievements, but never slavishly imitates their models, which makes the current legal system conform to China’s national conditions and practices as well as the trend of contemporary world legal civilization. China’s legal system, featuring both inclusiveness and openness, has fully demonstrated its unique cultural characteristics.
5. The socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics reflects the development demand of being dynamic and open, and of advancing with the times
A country’s legal system is normally the reflection of its conditions at a specific historical stage. With the country’s economic and social development, its legal system needs to be enriched and improved, and innovations introduced. Currently China is in the primary stage of socialism, and will remain so for a long time to come. The country is still in the stage of structural reforms and social transformation, and its socialist system calls for constant self-improvement and development, which determines that the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics is bound to have the features of both stability and mobility, both periodical variations and continuity, and both actuality and foresightedness. China’s legal system is dynamic, open, developing, not static, closed or fixed; it will constantly improve with China’s economic and social development and the practice of building a socialist country under the rule of law.
In the course of formulation of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics, China’s legislative bodies have integrated the leadership of the CPC, the people’s status as masters of their country and the rule of law, actively exercised their legislative power, and carried out legislative work in a planned, focused and step-by-step manner, with attention always fixed on the priorities of the country. We have thereby accumulated some precious experience and successfully blazed a new path of legislation with Chinese characteristics.
Persisting in promoting legislation in a planned and phase-by-phase manner with clear objectives. In the practice of building socialism with Chinese characteristics under the leadership of the CPC over the past 30-odd years since the adoption of the reform and opening up policies, China’s legislative bodies have, on the basis of their central tasks at different stages, proceeded from reality, focused on key issues, carried out careful organization work, established priorities, and formulated scientific, rational and practical five-year legislation plans and annual legislation work plans. They have enacted laws and regulations urgently needed for economic and social development, promoted legislation actively and steadily, and gradually formulated methods of building a socialist legal system in a planned, focused and phase-by-phase manner with clear objectives. We should pool legislative resources, focus on key legislation work and promptly meet the requirements of the fast-developing reform and opening up, thereby providing an effective path for building a socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics.
Persisting in promoting the side-by-side advancement of legislation at various levels. China is a united multi-ethnic country as well as a state with a unified government system, and economic and social development is unbalanced among different regions. In accordance with the national conditions, it is stipulated in the Constitution that under the guidance of the principle of giving full scope to the initiative and enthusiasm of the local authorities under the unified leadership of the central authorities, on the condition of maintenance of a unified legal system, the NPC and its Standing Committee exercise the legislative power of the state, the State Council formulates administrative regulations in accordance with the Constitution and the law, the people’s congresses of provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the central government, comparatively larger cities and their standing committees may adopt local regulations, the people’s congresses of ethnic autonomous areas have the power to enact regulations on the exercise of autonomy and other separate regulations, and the people’s congresses or their standing committees of the provinces and cities where special economic zones are located may, upon authorization by the NPC, formulate regulations and enforce them within the limits of the special economic zones. A legislation work pattern of side-by-side advancement of legislation at various levels has gradually taken shape, which greatly accelerates the building of our legal system and at the same time takes into consideration the actual needs of economic and social development in various regions. This is a practical working model for the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics.
Persisting in the combination of various legislative forms. The building of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics is a scientific and systematic project. Since the reform and opening up started, in accordance with the demands of economic and social development, China’s legislative bodies have lost no time in enacting laws and regulations urgently needed for the development of all social undertakings, attached importance to their amendment or abolition, and explained and checked them in a timely manner. They have adopted various legislative forms, such as formulation, amendment, abolition and interpretation, and promoted legislation in an all-round way. In this way, we have improved the quality of legislation and guaranteed the scientific nature and harmony of the legal system while laying a solid foundation for the effective implementation of legal norms.