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Legislative Motions Considered

By March 10, the deadline for deputies to submit their proposals to the Fourth Session of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC), a total of 1,040 motions in legislation had been received by an NPC special committee.

According to He Chunlin, deputy secretary-general of the session, most of the motions are devoted to 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05), the major blueprint guiding the country's economic and social development in the next five years. Some two-fifths of the motions deal with economic matters such as the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, economic adjustment for China's pending accession to the WTO, according to Li Kebing, a staff member with the session's secretariat. Apart from these, the deputies also showed great interest in matters concerning environmental protection, medical reform, social security, rural affairs and education. The following are some proposals.

Civil Code

With China on the threshold of WTO membership, the civil code becomes a legislative priority on the government agenda. Law experts have suggested that China follow international practice to enact the Civil Code, a basic law in compliance with both national conditions and international rules.

Yang Haikun, member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and dean of Suzhou University’s law school, pointed out that the General Rules of Civil Law formulated in the mid-1980s is already outdated and should be replaced with a new comprehensive civil code.

Yang considers the civil code a legislative priority upon China's accession to the WTO. Apart from a necessary body of civil law, the country needs to further establish simple and effective legal procedures through which citizens can safeguard their own rights.

Law on Safety in Operations

In the past few years, mine explosions, ship collisions and shopping mall fires took a great death toll in China. A number of lawmakers from southwest China's Sichuan Province have submitted a motion to the National People's Congress, proposing the prompt enactment of the Law on Safety in Operations.

Liu Xiaofeng, a NPC deputy and deputy director of the Sichuan Provincial Department of Communications, said that a major reason for the frequent occurrence of accidents is that China's laws and regulations do not contain explicit provisions on how to severely penalize the people held responsible.

"The only way that serious accidents can be prevented and people's lives secured is to monitor safety in operations according to law, standardize the production procedure, and investigate and punish those held responsible for accidents."

Law on Genetics

In the 21st Century, genetic technology is ushering in another global revolution. While bringing huge benefits to the human race, genetic technology is a two-edged weapon. Tabled jointly by a group of NPC deputies headed by Prof. Kong Fanchao, president of the Mathematics and Physics College of Anhui University, the law on the management of genetically-engineered medicines needs to be enacted to promote and standardize their research, development and utilization, as well as the management of production, sales and safety of such products.

Zhang Zhongli, ex-president of the Shanghai Academy of Social Science, also voiced his concern on the utilization and protection of genetic resources. "Given the practical and potential commercial values of genetic R&D, a new 'enclosure movement' will be launched. China must establish genetic patent rights to protect its rich micro-organic, plant and animal genetic resources."

Legislation on Western Development

Without sufficient legislation, sustainable western development is simply out of the question, as has been highlighted by NPC deputy Xu Siyi, a professor of Xinjiang University.

CPPCC deputy Lu Hushan also considered a favorable legal environment crucial in western development above all the talk of natural resources, infrastructure facilities, ecological environment and the lack of trained people. Such an environment embraces every aspect, every part and every process from its contents to operation: law making, enforcement, publicity and supervision.

Lu suggested that laws on western development be formulated as soon as possible. The active laws and regulations be revised, especially those not facilitating market-opening, drawing funds, techniques and talents. Enough funds should be provided to guarantee legislation and law enforcement. Law awareness should be further improved, especially among government officials and those in law enforcement.

Legal services should be developed actively, such as law firms and para-legal assistance, gradually promoting their level and capability. Legal supervision from the NPC, democratic supervision from the CPPCC and inspection from administrative bodies and news media should be enhanced so that strict supervision from top to bottom ensures no abuse of power, which should only serve the interests of the state and people. Moreover, the notion and concept of economic administration by the administration should be changed thoroughly.

Law on Ecological Protection

With a delicate ecological balance, China has always taken ecological protection as the core of its development policies. Several motions covered this aspect.

Fourty-one deputies suggested that legislation on water bodies should be established, as well as regulations on the water resources of the Yellow and Yangtze River. Operation committees should also be set up for large rivers and lakes, in order to conduct continual surveys and investigations instead of mending problems only when an emergency arises.

A dozen motions and proposals were also submitted concerning control of radiation, sewage disposal, wild life protection and grassland protection.

Law on Cyber Safety

The all-encompassing nature of the Internet and other state-of-the-art technologies has posed both blessings and problems for mankind. How China should safeguard the Internet and enforce information security stimulated heated discussions among lawmakers and advisory members.

According to the Ministry of Information Industry, there will be 35 million Internet users and more than 17 million computers logged onto the Internet by the end of 2001 in China. Meanwhile, around 20 kinds of Internet-related crimes have been uncovered so far.

NPC deputy Cai Qi pointed out that the substandard practices of online taxation, insurance and contracts have curtailed the healthy development of the cyber economy. A law on cyber safety is urgently needed, including punishment of cyber crimes, regulations on cyber coding and decoding, users' privacy and network safety monitoring.

Apart from cracking down on Internet crime, deputies and members agreed to enhance the use of a "healthy Internet" amongst the younger generation.

Law on Lotteries

With the initial sales hitting 10 million yuan, Beijing Computer Welfare Lottery was brought into the limelight. In recent years, lotteries have witnessed an amazing surge and have gained popularity among the public because of the promise of instant wealth. However, the current regulation, drafted in the early stage of lottery development and covering only the welfare lottery, is inadequate under current circumstances.

Ma Damou, along with 31 other national legislators, has submitted a proposal calling for lottery legislation. In their opinion, the nation is in need of a lottery law to guide future development.

In his motion, Ma said the proposed lottery law should empower the government to control the form and procedures, take measures to keep lotteries orderly, and impose controls on the use of funds collected.

Another legislative motion, put forward by Wei Wenlin, calls for the government to set up a new education lottery to remedy fund shortages for education.

Establishment of Fingerprint Bank

The fingerprint, a unique identification symbol, can be very useful in both daily life and for tracking down criminals. A police deputy has proposed that China should enact a law on establishing a residents' fingerprint information bank.

Yu Shunhua, a police officer from the Public Security Bureau of Nanjing City, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, believed this would make it easier for police to crack down on crimes, maintain social security and guarantee human rights.

Facing the increase of high-tech crimes, fingerprints have become vital in solving criminal cases. Yu expressed the hope that the NPC would enact a law on collecting fingerprints of all citizens aged 16 and over.

He also argued that the establishment of fingerprint information banks would serve the interests of human rights. With China's rapid economic and social development, it is becoming increasingly urgent to protect citizens' legitimate rights and interests in their work and life by using their fingerprints.

According to NPC working procedures, the motions have been sorted out by the session's secretariat. A total of 268 have been handed to NPC special committees to determine whether they should be listed on the agenda of the NPC or its standing committee. The other 772 motions have been taken as suggestions or criticisms to be handled by the NPC Standing Committee's working departments.

(www.china.org.cn by Gao Kun 04/09/2001)

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