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White paper published on China's rule of law
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VII. Popularization and Education of the Law

China has actively promoted the awareness of the rule of law among the public. For many years, the state has unremittingly carried out education and publicity of the legal system, promoting the spirit of law, and enhancing public awareness. It strives to develop the fine tradition of studying, observing and applying the law.

Since 1985, the Standing Committee of the NPC has adopted five decisions to popularize the knowledge of law among the people, and has successively implemented four five-year plans for the dissemination of general knowledge of the law. During the first five-year plan for popularization of knowledge of the law (1986-1990), over 700 million citizens studied elementary knowledge of the law; during the second five-year plan for popularization of knowledge of the law (1991-1995), 96 industries made plans for the dissemination of general knowledge of the law, organizing study programs for more than 200 laws and regulations; and during the third five-year plan (1996-2000), 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government dealt with irregularities according to law, accompanied by activities to popularize knowledge of the law. Some 95 percent of prefecture-level cities, 87 percent of counties (districts, cities) and 75 percent of grassroots units joined efforts in this regard. During the fourth five-year plan for popularization of knowledge of the law (2001-2005), 850 million citizens received various forms of education in law. At the moment, the fifth five-year plan for popularization of knowledge of the law is being vigorously implemented.

The target of popularizing the knowledge of law is every citizen, and the focus is civil servants. For ordinary citizens, popularizing the knowledge of law not only aims to make them know the laws and abide by them, more importantly, is to enable them to use the laws as a weapon to protect their lawful rights and interests. For civil servants, popularizing the knowledge of law aims to make them develop a clear understanding of the rule of law, and act according to law more consciously. China has all along insisted on combining the popularization of knowledge of the law with governance according to law. Activities, including "Governing the Province According to the Law" and "Governing the City According to the Law," are widely carried out to promote the construction of the rule of law in daily work of different regions, departments and units, as well as the production and life of the citizens, so as to strive to enhance the level of the rule of law of the whole society and promote the combination of studying the law and practicing the law.

Today, disseminating the general knowledge of law has become a common act of the whole society. Since the 16th National Congress of the CPC was held in 2002, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee has held more than 20 study sessions in relation to the rule of law, which have played an exemplary role for the whole society, especially for civil servants, in studying the law and fostering the concept of the rule of law. The Standing Committee of the NPC, the executive meeting of the State Council and the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference have held a number of meetings to study the law. It has become a system for Party and government organizations at all levels to organize collective law study sessions. Various activities for popularizing the knowledge of law have been organized by the state. December 14, the day when the present Constitution was promulgated, is celebrated as Chinese law publicity day. Legal publicity has also become a focus on the March 15 International Day for Protecting Consumers' Rights, the June 5 World Environment Day, the June 26 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, as well as on days marking the promulgation of important laws and regulations. Schools of different types at all levels have brought law education into required courses. The media, including radio, television, newspapers and the net, have all enhanced their efforts in law publicity. At present, over 300 TV stations at provincial and municipal levels have started programs on the law. Some places have also launched websites for law publicity and education.

The state attaches great importance to law education. In the early years of the People's Republic of China, the central government established the Beijing Institute of Political Science and Law, the East China Institute of Political Science and Law, the South Central Institute of Political Science and Law, the Southwest Institute of Political Science and Law, and the Northwest Institute of Political Science and Law, as well as departments of law in such comprehensive universities as the Renmin University of China, Northeast People's University, Peking University and Fudan University in line with a uniform national plan. Thus, law education in China developed into a considerable scale. Since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policies in 1978, law education in China has entered a period of rapid development. By the end of 2006, some 603 institutions of higher learning had offered bachelor's degrees in law, with nearly 300,000 students majoring in law. In addition, some 333 institutions of higher learning and scientific research institutes were entitled to confer master's degrees in law, 29 were entitled to confer doctorates in law, and 13 law education institutions had launched mobile stations for postdoctoral law studies. After nearly 30 years' restoring, rebuilding, reforming and developing efforts, a law education system has taken shape and it focuses on bachelor, master and doctorate education and combines the education of law majors and vocational education in law, basically satisfying the needs to build a modern socialist country.

(China.org.cn February 28, 2008)

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