Chief judge Xiao Yang said the work emphasis of the people's court this year will focus on retaining judicial fairness and improving efficiency to maintain social stability and encourage economic advancement.
Xiao, president of the Supreme People's Court, made the remarks on Saturday in the work report delivered at the plenary meeting of the Fourth Session of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC).
"(We will) provide a strong judicial guarantee and an excellent legal service to ensure the smooth implementation of the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05)," said Xiao.
He promised that the people's court would take various actions to maintain market order, ensure financial safety and protect intellectual property rights.
The court will also protect the legitimate rights of Chinese and foreign investors making investments in western China so as to create favourable conditions for the country's western development strategy, according to Xiao.
He also vowed to make "judicial preparations" for China's upcoming accession to the World Trade Organization.
The court will seriously punish economic crimes such as smuggling, export tax rebate fraud, the making and marketing of fake commodities and financial fraudulence, said Xiao.
He disclosed that the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court is now investigating and handling the case of former Vice-Minister of Public Security Li Jizhou, who is accused of taking bribes.
The people's court will also come down hard on crimes endangering state security, sabotaging state power and hindering the reunification of the country, said Xiao, citing organized crime, drug-related crime and forced prostitution as examples.
Falun Gong die-hards will also be punished according to the law and those who repent can expect to be treated leniently.
Xiao said that crimes endangering information exchange and Internet safety will also be punished heavily.
According to Xiao's report, the supreme court last year handled a total of 4,288 second-instance cases, death penalty reviews and sentencing supervision cases and concluded 4,832 cases, including those left over from the previous year.
Meanwhile, local courts handled 5.35 million and concluded 5.38 million cases, including those handed down from the previous year.
Over the past year, courts have punished more than 640,000 criminals throughout the country and concluded 847 smuggling cases, up by 6.21 per cent and 122 per cent respectively over the previous year.
Chinese courts are stepping up efforts to strengthen judicial discipline and increase judicial guarantees on human rights, Xiao stressed.
In the last year, a total of 6,617 people received verdicts of not guilty, including 2,591 who were declared innocent because of unclear facts and insufficient evidence, and 4,026 who had been found not to have violated the law.
(China Daily 03/12/2001)