China should make law the rule, not tool

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, October 21, 2014
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As China's ruling party pledges to advance the rule of law at a key meeting on this theme, government agencies and officials should be reminded that the law should regulate the entire society, rather than simply be a tool to justify their administration.

The fourth plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee -- slated for Oct. 20-23 -- is billed as a milestone in China's political reforms and progress, as it will be devoted to the central theme of "rule of law" for the first time in the Party's history.

The meeting will deliberate on a draft decision of the CPC Central Committee on "major issues concerning comprehensively advancing rule of law."

In a report at the 18th Congress of the CPC two years ago, the Party stated that it "must act within the scope prescribed by the Constitution and laws."

"No organization or individual has the privilege of overstepping the Constitution and laws, and no one in a position of power is allowed in any way to take one's own words as the law, place one's own authority above the law or abuse the law," the report said.

However, achieving this is no easy job in China as the country is still striving to shake off the past shadows of the "rule of man," which has lasted for thousands of years and was endorsed by the past feudal rule.

Despite problems in legislation, law enforcement and the judicial system that still need to be fixed, an imperative task to promote rule of law is to establish the authority of law and raise respect for this authority in the mentality of the entire society.

One factor undermining China's rule of law is some officials' belief in the efficiency of "rule of man" and regard for the law as an obstacle in promoting reform and development.

However, such governance no longer suits a modern society which features greater individual independence, more diversified values and more complicated interests and interpersonal relationships.

Also, as some analysts have put it, many problems in China's reform and economy could find their roots in the lack of rule of law.

Moreover, some Chinese officials have stressed the rule of law mainly to warn the public against violation but perceived themselves off-limits to the regulations.

If the law can not be respected as a universal rule that regulates all members of society, it will be abased to a tool that could be easily bent or abandoned.

Failure by the law to rein in the use of power may also give rise to problems such as corruption and excessive administrative interference in the economy.

Officials' misbelief will sabotage public confidence in law as well.

Previous statistics revealed that around seven to eight million petitions are filed with Chinese government authorities each year, indicating that some members of the public trust power over law.

China has leaned a bitter lesson from the disregard of law in the past as the decade-long Cultural Revolution from the 1960s wrought great damage on the country's progressive legal reforms, and at one point left the country without a working constitution.

Such problems must not be repeated in modern China.

Also, it should be made clear that rule of law will not conflict with the leadership of the CPC.

The 18th CPC Congress has pledged to promote law-based governance of the country in an all-around way and declared that rule of law is the "basic way for running the country."

Observers believe that the CPC meeting will lay the groundwork for future moves by the Party to achieve this goal.

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