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People's Congress Improves Nation's Laws: An Interview With Xu Jialu
The on-going session of the People's Congress is the fifth and last gathering of deputies elected to the Ninth National People's Congress. Looking back on the work of the previous four years, Xu Jialu noted great progress marked by achievements that feature the following four characteristics:

First, the quality of legislation has improved thanks to the reform of the investigation, research, and deliberation processes of this law-making body, Xu said.

"Opinions from all sides need to be solicited when drafting a law, particularly when the law submitted for deliberation involves the interests of various citizens," Xu said.

Before a law is adopted by the National People's Congress, according to Xu, NPC deputies will do thorough research, collecting opinions from experts, field workers and the court system, and coordinating with various departments concerned.

Second, the principle of enacting a law on a democratic base has been implemented and enhanced. "NPC deputies listen widely to the public and make extensive researches to stand for the interests of people," said Xu, noting that the revision of the Marriage Law and Organic Law of Villagers' Committee were accomplished through wide discussion via the media.

Third, running the country according to law has been enhanced both in theory and practice over the past years. As a ruling Party, according to Xu, the Communist Party of China should run the country according to law. Neither a decision of the Party nor the words of a leading Party official can turn into a law. In sum, he said, the Party's will can turn into law only through a democratic process. He stressed that the relationship between the Party's leadership and the people's representatives is that the Party's leadership should be enhanced while full play should be given to democracy. The Communist Party of China, as a ruling Party, should also act within the scope permitted by law.

Fourth, the function of People's Congress as a supervisory body has been enhanced. Xu said, "Supervision is a very important responsibility of People's Congress, but also it has been a weak link. Fortunately, great progress has been made in this respect over the past four years." He cited following examples to support his view.

After the Budget Law was promulgated in 2000, the budget reported to the National People's Congress by the State Development Planning Commission is no longer a vague paper, but is carefully classified into various items. The commission submits the verified budgetary items for next year to National People's Congress before November. The Budgetary Committee and the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress will carefully review each item.

At present, top legislators are working on a regulation governing the supervision of significant cases by People's Congress. According to this regulation, said Xu, the People's Congress must attend to individual cases of great significance and influence.

Local People's Congresses have also tried different ways of appraisal to supervise the performance of local officials.

The drafting work on the Supervision Law has been accomplished, but it will go through a period of discussion, deliberation and modification before being adopted.

"We should be aware that our supervision is still far from enough and needs to be strengthened. But in what way? Supervision by People's Congress can replace neither disciplinary inspection within the Party nor the government's Ministry of Supervision nor supervision from the media and the public. It should be a supervision by law. Where to find a mechanism which fits for China's reality? It requires a process. At present, the public is unsatisfied with our supervision, which indicates that we must strengthen our work in this regard," Xu said.

Tomorrow: Xu Jialu gives his views on the promotion of democracy.

(By Yan Xinxia, china.org.cn staff reporter, translated by Chen Qiuping, March 9, 2002)

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