The people's congress system is China's fundamental political system. The Constitution of the PRC provides that state power belongs to the people. The NPC and local people's congresses at all levels are organs representing the people in exercising state power. The First NPC in 1954 marked the establishment of the system.
The people's congresses have four main functions and powers: legislation, supervision, appointment and removal of officials, and making decisions on major issues. These functions are a major reflection of the way the Chinese people exercise their power as masters of the state through the people's congress system. To persist, improve and develop the system is an important part of the building of political democracy in China. Since the Third Session of the 11th Plenary Session of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1978, the people's congress system has seen constant improvement and development.
The past 50 years have proved that the people's congress system accords with the national conditions of China. It not only ensures that people exercise state power in a concerted way and gives full play to their enthusiasm and initiative as masters of the state, but also creates favorable conditions for state organs to share the work and help one another in organizing the socialist construction.
Work of the 10th NPC Standing Committee in 2005
In 2005, the NPC Standing Committee performed its functions according to the Constitution and related laws and made great efforts to expand the role of NPC deputies, reinforce institutional building, improve the quality of legislation and enhance supervision.
--Development of the people's congress system
On the basis of careful investigations and studies, as well as consultation with representatives from all walks of life, the NPC Standing Committee promulgated the Proposals on Giving Full Play to the Role of NPC Deputies and Strengthening Institution Building of the NPC Standing Committee. To guarantee the right to know of deputies, more than 20 kinds of written materials, in addition to relevant gazettes, were delivered to them, including communiques of Standing Committee meetings, annual legislative plans and reports on law enforcement, statistical reports on national economic and social development and analyses of the economic situation. More deputies were allowed to attend Standing Committee meetings and participate in law enforcement inspections and investigations for legislation. In the year, more than 140 deputies sat on Standing Committee meetings and nearly 400 deputies were involved in law enforcement inspections and investigations for legislation, producing a positive effect on raising the quality of legislation, enhancing supervision and improving the work of the Standing Committees.
Efforts were also made to optimize procedures for handling deputies' motions and improving the quality of their work. The NPC presidium assigned 991 motions raised by delegations and deputies for examination. In the process of handling those motions, 12 laws concerning 161 motions were adopted by the Standing Committee, drafts of seven other laws concerning 46 motions were submitted to the Standing Committee for deliberation and 30 laws concerning 125 motions were incorporated into the Standing Committee's legislative timetable or annual legislative plan. Of the remaining motions, some were transferred to the State Council for formulating administrative regulations. In the case of those lacking mature conditions to enter the process of legislation, proposers were notified of the situation.
Regarding the 5,884 suggestions, complaints and ideas raised by deputies during the Third Session of the 10th NPC, relevant departments dealt with all of them seriously and informed the deputies concerned of the developments on a case-by-case basis. Of all the suggestions, 1,502, or 25 percent of the total, had been acted upon or were in the process of being considered, while those that had been adopted or put into future work agendas accounted for 2,347 or 40 percent of the total. According to feedback from more than 1,000 deputies, 92 percent were satisfied with the handling of their suggestions.
To better exploit the role of deputies, the Standing Committee arranged group inspections on major issues concerning the formulation of the 11th Five-Year Plan. It also organized 1,500 deputies to carry out investigations into law enforcement and the handling of deputies' motions and suggestions, and people's visits and calls, resulting in the submittal of more than 170 study reports.
Efforts were also made to strengthen communication with NPC deputies. Liaison offices were set up under standing committees of provincial people's congresses, to improve the quality of service to deputies. Allocations for deputies to perform their duties were also increased. In addition, the Standing Committee released 12 supportive regulations on arranging deputies' activities, handling their motions and suggestions, meeting service and guarantee requirements, expanding the role of special committees, recording and examining legal interpretations and receiving petitions.
In 2005, the 10th NPC and its Standing Committee deliberated a total of 25 draft laws, legal decisions and legal interpretations. Among the 18 statutes adopted were the Civil Servant Law, the Administrative Penalty Law, the Notarization Law, the Law on Animal Husbandry, and the Law on Exempting Foreign Central Banks' Properties from Compulsory Judicial Enforcement, as well as interpretations of, and decisions on, related provisions in the Criminal Law. Drawing on lessons from practice and on consultations with people from all walks of life, the Standing Committee also amended the Company Law, the Securities Law, the Audit Law, the Personal Income Tax Law, the Law on Protection of Women's Rights and Interests, the Labor Contract Law, the draft Passport Law, Amendments of the Criminal Law and draft Amendments of the Compulsory Education Law, and decided to scrap agricultural taxes by repealing relevant regulations as of January 1, 2006.
The Third Session of the 10th NPC unanimously adopted the Anti-Secession Law in March 2005. It codifies the policies of the Central Government on solving the Taiwan issue and encompasses the common will and firm determination of the Chinese people to protect state sovereignty and territorial integrity and never allow "Taiwan independence" forces to split Taiwan from China in any name or by any means.
After the former chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region resigned from his post in March 2005, the NPC Standing Committee, in accordance with statutory procedures, consulted with the Committee of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR under the NPC, as well as NPC deputies, members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and representatives of various communities in Hong Kong. On this basis, it adopted a legal interpretation at its 15th Meeting, which said the term of office of the next Hong Kong SAR chief executive shall be the term of office left incomplete by the former chief executive. This move ensured the thorough implementation of the Basic Law and provided a strong guarantee for the smooth election of the new Hong Kong chief as scheduled.
Through the year, the Standing Committee also made achievements in promoting scientific and democratic legislation. It published the draft Property Law to solicit public comments and suggestions. In another development, a hearing was held on the adjustment of the taxable threshold for monthly personal income. Based on opinions aired at the hearing and other factors, the Standing Committee decided to raise the cutoff point from the originally proposed 1,500 yuan to 1,600 yuan.
In 2005, the Standing Committee carried out nationwide inspections on the enforcement of six laws that are of top concern to lawmakers, namely, the Agricultural Law, the Law on Prevention and Control of Water Pollution, the Work Safety Law, the Statistics Law, the Labor Law and the Lawyer Law. It also heard and deliberated 10 reports from the State Council on final state accounts, audit of the use of state funds, implementation of the national development plan, supervision and administration of state-owned assets, reform of state-owned enterprises, rejuvenation of the old industrial base in northeast China and regulation of food and drug safety. These efforts facilitated the effective implementation of the relevant laws, supported and promoted the governing body's administration by law and safeguarded public interest.
Judicial justice has always been a focus of the Standing Committee in performing its supervisory duties. With regard to internal supervision in the judicial system, committee members heard reports from the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, urging judicial and procuratorial organs to seriously fulfill their obligations according to the Constitution and other laws and strengthen and improve internal supervision in response to the most common complaints.
The NPC Standing Committee also paid much attention to handling complaints widely aired by ordinary people and issues of common concern. In 2005 alone, it received more than 130,000 letters and 58,000 visits. Following the principle of "uniform assignment, comprehensive analysis, regular feedback and strict supervision," the Standing Committee pressed the relevant local, departmental and grassroots organizations to conduct timely investigations and adhere strictly to state policies in settling problems on the spot and at the grassroots level.
In 2005, the NPC received 86 parliamentary delegations from 54 countries. It also sent 115 delegations to visit 78 countries and attended 29 international and regional conferences.
The NPC held two rounds of talks with the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives separately, with leaders from both sides meeting on several occasions. Cooperative committees between the NPC and the Russian Federation Council and State Duma were established, prompting more frequent high-level contacts between the two sides. The NPC also launched a mechanism of regular exchanges with the legislative bodies of Germany, Japan, South Korea and Britain, and improved similar arrangements with the Canadian Congress and the European Parliament. Negotiations on regular parliamentary exchanges with various developing countries got underway. The NPC's exchanges with parliaments of neighboring countries continued to develop, while its cooperation with the legislatures of other developing countries was further consolidated.
In addition, the NPC participated actively in multilateral activities sponsored by international and regional organizations such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Association of Asian Parliaments for Peace, the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentarian Organization, the Latin American Parliament, the Pacific Island Forum and the Pacific Speakers Conference, playing an increasingly important role in international and regional parliamentary organizations. In September 2005, it sent a delegation to attend the Second World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments in New York, reiterating the NPC's aim to join hands with parliaments of countries across the world and unremittingly strive for a new world of peace, prosperity and harmony. The declaration was warmly welcomed by parliament leaders attending the meeting, especially those from developing countries. The NPC also hosted the Hong Kong Session of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum and helped the adoption of the positive-sounding Hong Kong Declaration.
The Fourth Session of the 10th NPC
The Fourth Session of the 10th NPC was held in Beijing on March 5-14, 2005, with 2,988 deputies in attendance. The session approved the Government Work Report, the Outlines of the 11th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2006-10), the Work Report of the NPC Standing Committee, the Work Report of the Supreme People's Court and the Work Report of the Supreme People's Procuratorate. Lawmakers also deliberated and endorsed the Report on the Implementation of the 2005 Plan for National Economic and Social Development and the Draft 2006 Plan for National Economic and Social Development, and the Report on the Implementation of the Central and Local Budgets for 2005 and the Draft Central and Local Budgets for 2006.
Regarding the Outlines of the 11th Five-Year Plan, the session said the plan's major objectives and tasks conform to China's national conditions, embody the common will of the people of all ethnic groups, reflect the objective requirements of the times and are attainable.
Deputies and delegations to the 10th NPC put forward 1,006 motions during the meeting, with those on legislation accounting for 1,003. Of these, 541 motions were attached with drafts of laws, providing a solid basis for the Standing Committee to deliberate and formulate laws.