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National awards system being studied
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The authorities are considering a central system to award individuals' achievements in various fields to regulate such honors now being given out by local governments and agencies, said officials.

"The country is forging ahead to study the setting up of a national system of honors and a government framework for awards," said Yin Weimin, minister of personnel.

Research on two specific laws to administer awards and confer medals is already being carried out, Yin said in a conference over the weekend.

The National People's Congress has discussed laws on systems to give out awards and medals as early as 1993, but no agreement has been reached because of the complexity of such systems, experts said.

"Effective government awarding methods are positive ways to motivate society to learn from the merits of individuals," said Wang Xiongjun, a researcher with Peking University.

"And the establishment of core honors in an award system, as national honors and medals for certain fields, will bring China in line with international standards," Wang said.

Currently, China has various rules set up by government agencies to award individuals including civil servants and civilians who make contributions in certain fields, but almost all these lack detailed descriptions on awarding procedures and methods, said Wang.

There have also been cases where officials were nominated for awards in controversial selection processes - sometimes involving large amount of prize money - that were said to lack transparency.

For instance, judge Song Yushui from the Haidian District People' Court was up for an award worth a million yuan ($135,600) in 2005 given by the Beijing municipal government for being one of the "outstanding individuals" of the year.

But critics said Song should not receive such an award since her "achievements" were expected of her as a judge.

To prevent such situations, there should be guidelines and principles set under an awards system, said Hua Xiaochen, an expert on public institutions with a research body under the Ministry of Personnel.

The main role of an awards system is to provide examples of merit for the public to learn from and not to focus on large prizes, Hua told the Legal Daily.

(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2007)

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