Legal Climate Needs Improvement

The Chinese Communist Party has made the strategic decision to develop western China. People talk more about natural resources, infrastructural facilities, ecological environment and flow of trained people when referring to this subject. But, in fact, a favorable legal environment is also crucial.

Lu Hushan, vice-chairman of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region People's Political Consultative Conference, made the remarks while attending the fourth session of the Ninth National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference which concluded yesterday.

Such an environment embraces every aspect, every part and every process from its contents to operation: law making, enforcement, publicity and supervision.

Although great progress has been made in creating a proper legal environment for the western region after 20 years of hard work, legal climate still needs improvement to meet current requirements manifested as the following:

Legislation establishment lags behind. Up to now, there has not been a specially-tailored law or any administrative regulations for western development, so that much of the work has been done without legal guidance. Some current national laws and statutes, including some local regulations, have proved unsuitable to the needs of western regional development, which has resulted in many legal obstacles holding back the local economy and construction.

There are still systematic problems about law enforcement agencies and judicial departments. Some agencies are willing to step in when they see benefits, and shuffle when they see none. Herein lies the seed of corruption, a negative factor in western investment climate.

Law awareness is yet to be enhanced. The notion that people should go and protect themselves by law has not been widely adopted.

Insufficient budget has led some law departments bend themselves in law making before administrative agencies from which their budgets come from.

In view of these, Lu put forward following suggestions:

1. Laws on Western Development should be formulated as soon as possible. Western development involves such a large area and population that it should be carried out as a fundamental policy. Meanwhile, laws and regulations of certain subject matters, such as laws to encourage people to invest in the west, laws to develop high-tech and laws to reforest the cultivated land, etc. should also be made according to the local reality. The state can establish some administrative regulations before the national laws are set up. The governments in the western regions can also establish some local rules and administrative regulations in accordance with their special conditions. All these rules and regulations will accumulate experience for national legislation.

2. The active laws and regulations should be revised, especially those not facilitating market-opening, drawing funds, techniques and talents.

3. Enough budget should be increased to guarantee legislation and law enforcement. First of all, the phenomenon should be abolished that legislative budget is provided by the departments that draft the laws and regulations, so as to prevent the intrusion of special interests involving the legislators and the departments. The state and the local governments should allocate special funds for legislation. Secondly, governments at different levels should regulate their administrative authorities so as to more strictly run state affairs and improve the system of law enforcement Thirdly, the state should further seek judicial system reform and create a favorable environment for judicial departments and prevent any illegal interference.

4. The awareness of law should be further improved, especially among government officials and those in law enforcement. Government officials at different levels must study laws. Schools must have courses about laws. Administrative organs at the basic level should spread the general knowledge of laws to people. Law enforcers and judicial officials should further study and take tests regularly.

5. Legal service should be developed actively, such as law firms and para-legal assistance, gradually promoting their level and capability.

6. Legal supervision from the NPC, democratic supervision from the CPPCC and inspection from administrative bodies and news media should be enhanced so that power is under strict supervision from top to bottom, to ensure the power not to be abused, but really serves the state and people.

Moreover, the notion and concept of economic administration by administration should be changed thoroughly. The basic legal principle of the market economy is that anything is permitted if it is not prohibited by law. Society can regulate behaviors through making new laws, but should not retrospect to the past. The core spirit of the legal system is to encourage renovation and new ideas by business and individuals. Therefore, on one hand, governments at different levels cannot interfere in the behavior or infringe the rights of persons and enterprises; on the other hand, “prohibition” can be decided by neither a single official nor a single government department, not even by governments themselves, but should be decided through democratic and legal procedure.

(CIIC 03/13/2001)