China's legal system is basically in place

By Chen Xia
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, February 11, 2011
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On December 1, 2010, an amendment to the State Compensation Law came into force. A highlight was the inclusion of provisions covering compensation for psychological trauma. For the first time in China's history, victims who suffer psychological damage caused by the state will be entitled to an apology and compensation.

For many years, people have faced problems caused by the complicated social insurance system. For example, increases in pensions did not keep pace with the country's rapid economic development; if one paid insurance premiums in one place, it was difficult to draw money in another; and pension standards differed greatly among different groups of people. To address these problems, the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, enacted the Social Insurance Law last October, laying down a legal basis for protecting the legitimate interests of citizens.

In addition to these two laws, more than 10 new laws and amendments affecting the economy and people's livelihood came into force last year. China is continually adjusting its legal system to cope with rapid social and economic change.

In 1949, the newly-founded People's Republic of China was faced with a major task --- to establish a legal framework for the administration of state affairs. Despite the setback of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), the country has made great headway in formulating a legal system.

In 1982, China adopted its current Constitution. As a continuation and development of the country's first Constitution enacted in 1954, the 1982 version was a milestone in the construction of a comprehensive legal system.

The Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law were the first laws of their kind to be enacted in China. The adoption of the two laws marked the establishment of a criminal justice system in China.

The Administrative Procedure Law is better known as the law that allows ordinary citizens to sue state organs. Its adoption indicates that the three major procedural laws were basically in place in the country.

In the first decade after 1978, the year China introduced the reform and opening-up policy, the NPC formulated 84 laws and adopted 64 policy documents concerning laws, laying a solid foundation for the development of a comprehensive legal system.

In the early 1990s as China moved towards a market economy, the focus of legislation shifted correspondingly. A series of laws were passed to standardize market operations, including the Company Law and the Securities Law. The number of laws relating to the economy passed during the 1990s was one-third greater than in the previous decade.

The year 1997 was significant in the development of China's legal system. The 15th National Congress of the Communist Party of China adopted "the rule of law" as a basic strategy and set out the major task of building a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics.

Since 2000, China has been working even harder to improve its legal system, enacting a string of major laws, including the Legislation Law and the Law on the Supervision of Standing Committees of People's Congresses at Various Levels.

The country's top legislature works continuously to give people more say in formulating legislation. To solicit views from the public, the top legislature holds public hearings, solicits opinions on the Internet and seeks public opinion on blogs and web posts. In March 2007, the NPC passed the Property Law after reviewing the draft eight times in five years, creating another record in the Chinese history.

The year 2010 was a milestone in the development of legal system. As of 2010, a total of 236 national laws, more than 690 administrative regulations, and more than 8,600 local laws and regulations had been enacted. China has established a comprehensive socialist legal system that governs all sectors of social life and provides a legal basis for the country's economic and social construction. In the future, how to ensure effective implementation of the laws will be a major task for the country.

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