II. Civil and Political Rights

China sets great store by the development of democracy and the building of political civilization. It has endeavored to widen the scope of citizens' orderly political participation, and to safeguard their civil and political rights in accordance with the law.

The Chinese Constitution stipulates, "All power in the People's Republic of China belongs to the people." The NPC and the local people's congresses at various levels are the organs through which the people exercise state power. The NPC is the highest organ of state power, deciding on the major policies and exercising the legislative power of the state.

From early 1979 till now, the NPC and its Standing Committee have passed 451 laws, interpretations of laws, and decisions concerning legal issues; the State Council has enacted 966 administrative statutes; the local people's congresses and their standing committees have drawn up some 8,000 local statutes; and the ethnic autonomous areas have enacted over 480 regulations on the exercise of autonomy and other separate regulations. Now, a comparatively complete legal system centered on the Constitution has initially been formed, so that there are basically laws to go by for every aspect of social life.

Following the principles of putting people above all else and legislation for the people, the NPC and its Standing Committee have strengthened their legislative work and improved the quality of legislation in the past year or more. The Second Session of the Tenth NPC, held not long ago, examined and approved amendments to the Constitution, which made partial revisions to the current Constitution and included in it "the state respects and safeguards human rights" and other provisions closely related to the people's vital interests.

In 2003, the NPC Standing Committee examined and adopted 10 laws and decisions concerning laws, including the Law on Residents' ID Cards, Law on Road Traffic Safety, Law on Administrative Approval and Law on the Prevention and Control of Radioactive Pollution. All these display the basic spirit of serving the people, facilitating the people and benefiting the people, as well as respecting and safeguarding their human rights.

In the past year, the NPC and its Standing Committee have strengthened its inspection of law enforcement and supervision over the administrative, judicial and procuratorial organs. The NPC and its Standing Committee have heeded, examined and deliberated the work report of the State Council; the work reports of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate; the work reports of the State Council on the control of SARS, on the guarantee of senior citizens' rights and interests, on employment and re-employment, and on the project to divert water from the south to the north.

The NPC and its Standing Committee have also made a thorough examination to clear up the government-invested projects that owed construction fees and payment to migrant workers, and examined the enforcement of five laws, including the Law on Rural Land Contracts, Construction Law and Law on the Protection of Minors. All this has effectively prompted the state organs concerned to administrate according to law and to exercise fair jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, the NPC Standing Committee has paid great attention to petitions from ordinary people, receiving some 31,000 visits and handling more than 57,000 letters from them. As a result, many practical problems of concern to citizens have been solved under its supervision, helping safeguard the legal rights and interests of the people.

The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC has further played its role in China's political life. The National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) has performed its functions of participating in the discussion and administration of state affairs, exercised democratic rights and carried out democratic supervision through its regular work of making proposals, inspections, and reflecting public opinion.

In the past year, the various special committees of the CPPCC National Committee made in-depth investigations into specific issues, such as rural poverty-relief work in the new stage, the defining of government functions in employment, and the increase in farmers' income in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities, resulting in 37 investigative reports and 114 proposals in specialized fields.

They have organized 23 inspection groups composed of over 500 CPPCC National Committee members and members of its Standing Committee for inspection tours across the country, culminating in the submission of 22 reports on their inspections.

The central committees of all the democratic parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce submitted 84 proposals and passed on to concerned quarters 1,674 pieces of public opinion and information through the CPPCC channel.

Along with the full-scale democratic construction at the rural grass-roots level, the democratic rights of the masses there have been respected. At present, 28 provinces, autonomous regions and centrally administered municipalities have worked out or revised the measures for implementing the Organic Law of Villagers' Committees and 31 of them have formulated the procedures for the election of villagers' committees.

The election of villagers' committees of the fifth or sixth terms have been completed in most of the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities throughout the country, with the average rate of participation in the elections being above 80 percent, and the rate even exceeding 90 percent in Guangdong, Hainan, Sichuan, and Hunan provinces.

Making village affairs known to the villagers, referred to as the "Sunlight Project" by the people, has been practiced across the country. So far, over 90 percent of villages have set up bulletin boards for such purposes, giving timely reports to villagers of village, financial and administrative affairs concerning their interests.

The legal protection of citizens' lawful private property has been further improved. The revised Constitution states clearly that citizens' lawful private property is inviolable; that the state protects citizens' rights to private property and to its inheritance in accordance with the law; and that the state may, in the public interest, and in accordance with the law, expropriate or requisition citizens' private property for its use and shall make compensation for the private property expropriated or requisitioned.

Citizens' freedom of information, of speech and of the press, as prescribed by law, has been further protected. In 2003, the press spokesperson system was successively set up by people's governments at all levels, and the related information publicizing system was improved, thus greatly helping make the government's administrative affairs better known and enabling citizens to enjoy more rights to information, supervision and participation in public affairs.

At present, the Measures for Protecting the Copyright of the Information Network is in the process of investigation prior to being put into law. The newly revised and promulgated Publications Administration Regulations and Regulations Governing the Administration of Audio-Visual Products have made further stipulations on citizens' freedom of speech and of the press. The Publications Administration Regulations prescribe that "citizens may, in accordance with these Regulations, freely express in publications their opinions and expectations of state affairs, economic and cultural undertakings and social affairs, and freely publish the results of their scientific research, literary or artistic creations and other cultural pursuits."

The state energetically promotes undertakings of the press, providing favorable conditions for citizens to enjoy freedom of speech and of the press. By the end of 2003, China had 282 radio stations, 744 medium- and short-wave radio transmitting and relay stations, 320 TV stations and 62 education TV stations, and published national and provincial newspapers with a print run of 24.36 billion, periodicals with a print run of 2.99 billion, and books with a print run of 6.75 billion.

Employees' rights to participate in and organize trade unions are protected. By the end of September 2003, the total number of grass-roots trade union organizations had increased 79.1 percent as compared with the figure five years ago, and the number of trade union members nationwide had risen 38.8 percent over that five years ago. There were 808,000 non-public enterprises with trade union organizations, boasting a membership of 29.601 million, which accounted for 32.7 percent of the total staff.

Among all enterprises and institutions, 351,000 had established the employees' conference system, 263,000 had their employees' conferences carry out the evaluation of the performance of the enterprise or institution leaders, and 291,000 practiced the publicizing of enterprise or institution affairs.

Of the 56,000 enterprises and institutions that had grass-roots trade union organizations and the boards of directors, 29,000 had trade union chairmen on the boards of directors. Of the 44,000 enterprises and institutions that had grass-roots trade union organizations and supervisory committees, 25,000 had trade union chairmen on the supervisory committees. Some 118,000 non-public enterprises in China practiced the publicizing of enterprise affairs.

Citizens enjoy the freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law and normal religious activities are protected. According to incomplete statistics, there are more than 100,000 venues for religious activities in China, with a clergy of about 300,000, and over 3,000 national and local religious organizations, and 74 religious colleges and schools.

Each religion publishes its own scriptures or classics, books and magazines, among which the print run of the Bible alone has reached 30 million. Chinese religious organizations have established relations with religious organizations and personnel in more than 70 countries and regions.