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New Law to Ensure Equality Between Private and Public Schools
Chinese legislators agreed a new law on Saturday that will ensure equality between non-State schools and those funded by the government, in order to attract more private investment to education, where demand still exceeds supply.

The latest session of the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC), which ended on Saturday, passed a law on the promotion of non-State schools, which refer to schools running without government subsidies.

The law, which takes effect on September 1 next year, allows the owners of non-State schools to make a "reasonable profit."

China, with its 1.3 billion population, urgently needs non-governmental funding to help develop its voluntary education sector, said legislator Liu Bin.

Current limited educational resources, especially high-quality resources, hardly meet public needs, he added.

Lawmakers also endorsed amendments to the agricultural law and the grasslands law, revisions to the Criminal Code and an explanation of the crime of malfeasance as referred to in the Criminal Code.

The Criminal Law revision, which has immediate effect, tightens penalties for illegally trafficking foreign waste into China, manufacturing and selling shoddy medical facilities and materials, endangering valuable wild plants and hiring child labor.

The top legislative body appointed Zhou Yongkang, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and former Party secretary of Sichuan Province, as the minister of public security, replacing Jia Chunwang, who was appointed deputy procurator-general of China's Supreme People's Procuratorate.

Zhou Xiaochuan, former chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, the nation's top stock watchdog, was appointed governor of the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, to replace Dai Xianglong, who has been appointed to a new position in Tianjin Municipality.

Saturday's meeting also passed a resolution putting forward suggestions for the agenda of the first plenary meeting of the 10th NPC, which will be convened on March 5, 2003 in Beijing.

The meeting also ratified an agreement on setting up a regional counter-terrorism agency reached by the six member nations of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization, an extradition treaty between China and South Africa, an extradition treaty between China and Lithuania, an agreement between China and Estonia on criminal justice assistance, an extradition treaty between China and the United Arab Emirates, and a supplementary agreement on the national boundaries between China and Tajikistan.

(China Daily December 30, 2002)

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