Big data on China's rule of law

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What does the rule of law mean to the Chinese? How much attention did the revised Legislation Law draw? Which laws concern ordinary people the most? As the "two sessions" go underway to discuss the nation's laws, Xinhua news agency and Baidu Index work together to answer some of these questions using big data.

"Rule of law" now a buzzword

According to statistics from Baidu Index, the search for "rule of law" has increased every year from 2011. In 2014, it climbed to 367,807 searches, up from 229,007 in 2013, or a jump of 60 percent.

What needs to be pointed out is that Baidu Index not only measures the number of searches being made. It is a data-sharing platform based on the search behavior of numerous Baidu users. The index can tell us how a keyword has been searched on Baidu, as well as its fluctuation within a certain period of time and changes in the media's opinion.

So, the "rule of law" has drawn increasing attention during the past four years, and the diagram provided by Baidu shows that the search for the "rule of law", or Fazhi in Chinese, reached a peak around the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee. The strategy of promoting rule of law in a comprehensive way drew the attention of people towards building a country ruled by law.

Now if you search for "rule of law" on Baidu's Web page there will be more than 100 million relevant results. On Baidu Baike, the Chinese answer to Wikipedia, the explanation of the rule of law goes that it is the fruit of civilization in the political sector, and the framework of a modern society. From a country's political system to personal speech and action, all should be subject to law. Modern China can truly achieve rule of law by subjecting the whole country, government and society to the law.

Legislation Law draws attention

The draft of the revised version of the Legislation Law was delivered to the National People's Congress for discussion on March 8. The law that rules the nation's lawmaking activities drew increasing attention in the past two years.

Statistics from Baidu Index suggest that "the Legislation Law", or Lifafa in Chinese, was searched for 297,954 times in 2013. This number climbed to 337,345 last year, a surge of 13.22 percent.

According to the diagram provided by Baidu that indicates the change of the search index, the search for the Legislation Law reached a peak during two discussion meetings of the NPC's standing committee for its revision in 2014.

Since being promulgated in 2000, the law plays an important role in standardizing lawmaking activities, though for ordinary people, it is not too familiar. But along with the NPC's two discussions last year, the law as well as the aim and significance of its revision lodged itself deeper in people's minds.

The revision of the Legislation Law plays a vital role in improving the efficiency and quality of lawmaking activities, said Jiang Ming'an, a professor of Peking University. In the draft, the scope of institutions allowed to make laws is properly expanded, which helps address the gap between demand and supply in the legislation. Improving the supervision of the lawmaking process makes problems like arbitrary, excessive or illegal lawmaking or exceeding the scope of one's power in lawmaking less likely to happen.

A Web user left a comment – "the law standardizes the lawmaking process" – on the news that the revision draft was delivered for discussion. It is the precondition to promote the rule of law. The netizen also said that the revised law will make Chinese lawmaking more efficient and of higher quality.

Laws that concern you the most

Promoting the rule of law in a comprehensive way means it will be relevant to everyone's life. But for ordinary people, what laws concern them the most?

The sample investigation made by Baidu Index on 10 popular laws showed that the food security law topped the ranking in the past two years, with 1,794,496 searches made in 2013 and 1,796,591 in 2014.

It was followed by the work safety law, the search of which reached 1,293,073 times in 2013 and 1,596,486 in 2014. It shows that safety in the living and production sectors is the top concern. In addition to expectations of safe food and working environments, people's hopes for a blue sky are also expressed by their attention to the relevant laws.

Another law-related key word from 2013 to 2014 is the environmental protection law. During that period, the searches made on Baidu surged 47.95 percent from 297,960 to 440,827.

The search for the prevention and control of atmospheric pollution picked up from 231,488 in 2013 to 254,138 times in 2014, as it was handed over to the NPC standing committee for discussion and revision late last year, ranking the fifth among the 10 laws selected for sample investigation.

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