--- SEARCH ---
Learning Chinese
Learn to Cook Chinese Dishes
Exchange Rates

Hot Links
China Development Gateway
Chinese Embassies

Emergency Law Mooted to Cope with Crises

In the draft constitutional amendments that passed preliminary review by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) last month, one term is worth noting: state of emergency.


If approved by the full session of NPC, the country's legislature, in March, the term "state of emergency" will be written into the Constitution. But there is presently no explicit definition of the term in Chinese law.


Experts are working to outline a draft of emergency law and fill in that blank.


Though its formal title is still to be decided, the law will certainly become the country's first legal text outlining a specific explanation of the term and stipulating the rights and responsibility of government, business and individuals and other related issues in a case of emergency.


"The outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) last spring served as a warning to the country about the importance of crisis management,'' said Xue Lan, a professor with the School of Public Policy and Management of Tsinghua University.


The alert made many people realize our society lacks the experience and mechanism to deal with emergencies like a public health crisis, terrorist attacks or large scale natural disasters.


As reforms deepen, different groups see a reallocation of resources and interests, producing seeds of instability.


Like all societies, ours has had its own way of dealing with emergencies. But it also has problems that may endanger future efficiency, Peng Zongchao, a colleague of Xue's, pointed out.


Measures against urgent occasions are often taken after problems occur. No high-level arrangements or prior strategies are in place as precautions.


Different government offices are in charge of different kinds of emergencies, and communication between those offices is often inadequate. There are no government organs or consultation mechanisms that could control the situation as a whole.


In most instances the government handles crises on its own rather than involving resources and support from people across the country.


To some extent, the successful fight against SARS offers convincing proof of Peng's points. After a high-profile committee was put in command, coordinating different government offices and mobilizing the public to take part in prevention and control efforts, the epidemic was rebuffed.


Now that a nation-wide mechanism to report and treat SARS is in place, the disease is not nearly the national threat it was a year ago.


China has already had several laws involving emergency preparedness, for such things as natural disasters, war and riots. But there is no fundamental legislation outlining a national policy to deal with emergencies.


The law under discussion will fill that need.


Besides defining a "state of emergency'' and laying a legal basis for a national system to deal with emergent issues, the law will stipulate the roles of government, business and ordinary people.


Jiang Mingan, a professor with the School of Law of Peking University, said the state of emergency is actually an "abnormal'' state of society versus its "normal'' state.


When something unusual and dangerous happens, the government must motivate all resources to ease the shock, prevent it from worsening, alleviate the damage and so on. It will definitely need some extra special power.


The law of emergency will define the government's tasks in tackling the crises and the extra power it will have during the period. At the same time, the law will also draw a line of individual rights, which the State cannot surpass.


Just as Yu An, a professor of law in the same school with Xue and Peng, observed, the practice of putting people under quarantine was over-stressed by some localities during the SARS outbreak, and came close to violating individual rights.


"The law will set out a legal framework for the government and individuals about their responsibilities and rights. With such a framework, they will be better able to enjoy their constitutional rights,'' Yu said.


Gu Linsheng, a researcher with the Development Research Academy for 21st Century affiliated with Tsinghua University, stressed the importance enlisting businesses in dealing with emergencies.


With the help of the business sector, equipment and materials needed in emergent issues can be quickly produced and delivered. And businesses can offer proper training to their employees on a daily basis, helping them better prepare for emergencies as individual citizens.


The law will also have clauses about information gathering and release, limits on transportation and communication, everyday education and training for citizens and judicial practices during the state of emergency.


(China Daily February 4, 2004)

Disaster Management Discussed
Beijing Builds Emergency Asylum for Victims of Serious Disasters
Measures to Ease Supply Emergencies in Beijing
Premier Stresses Enforcement of SARS-related Laws
China Planning Mechanism for Public Health Emergencies
Public Health Emergency Systems Set up
First Maritime Rescue Heliport Put into Operation
Nation Bolsters Disaster Relief Forces
China's First Urban Emergency Response System Comes to Nanning
Helicopter Added to Emergency Rescue in Beijing
Print This Page
Email This Page
About Us SiteMap Feedback
Copyright © China Internet Information Center. All Rights Reserved
E-mail: webmaster@china.org.cn Tel: 86-10-68326688