II.Composition of the Socialist System of Laws with Chinese Characteristics
II. Composition of the Socialist System of Laws with Chinese Characteristics
The socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics is an organic integration of the related laws of the Constitution, civil and commercial laws, administrative laws, economic laws, social laws, criminal laws, litigation and non-litigation procedural laws, and other legal branches, with the Constitution in the supreme place, the laws as the main body, and administrative and local regulations as the major components.
1. Tiers of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics
The Constitution is the paramount law of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics. As China's fundamental law, the Constitution assumes the commanding position in the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics and is the fundamental guarantee of lasting stability and security, unity of ethnic groups, economic development and social progress. In China, people of all ethnic groups, all state organs, the armed forces, all political parties and public organizations, and all enterprises and institutions in the country must take the Constitution as the basic standard of conduct, and they have the duty to uphold the dignity of the Constitution and ensure its implementation.
China's present Constitution is one with Chinese characteristics and geared to the needs of socialist modernization, and is the general charter for governance of the country and good order of the nation. It was passed by the NPC in 1982 after nationwide discussion. Later, in accordance with the national economic and social development, the NPC passed four Amendments to the Constitution. China's Constitution defines the basic system and basic tasks of the state, affirms the leadership of the CPC, establishes the guiding role of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of the Three Represents, determines the state system as a people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants, and takes the system of people's congresses as the form of administration. It rules that all state power belongs to the people and that the citizens enjoy extensive rights and freedom in accordance with the law, establishes the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation led by the CPC, the system of regional ethnic autonomy and the system of primary-level self-governance, and specifies the basic economic system in which public ownership is dominant and diverse forms of ownership develop side by side and the distribution system in which distribution according to work is dominant and diverse modes of distribution coexist. While maintaining its stability, China's Constitution is constantly improving and advancing with the times, along with the reform and opening up and the progress of the cause of socialist modernization. Promptly written into the Constitution are important experience, principles and systems that have been proven mature by practice, which fully reflects the outstanding achievements of China's reform and opening up, the great achievements of the cause of socialist construction with Chinese characteristics and the self-improvement and constant development of the socialist system, providing a fundamental guarantee for the progress of the reform and opening up, and socialist modernization.
The Constitution has supreme legal authority in the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics. All laws, administrative and local regulations must be made in accordance with the Constitution and follow its basic principles, and must not contravene the Constitution.
The laws are the main body of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics. The Constitution stipulates that the NPC and its Standing Committee exercise the legislative power of the state. The laws formulated by the NPC and its Standing Committee are the main body of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics, and deal with matters of fundamental and overall importance to national development and those which affect the country's stability and long-term development. The laws are the basis of the nation's legal system, and must not be contravened by administrative or local regulations.
The Law on Legislation ensures exclusive legislative power to the NPC and its Standing Committee. The NPC enacts and amends basic laws governing criminal offences, civil affairs, state organs and other matters; the Standing Committee of the NPC enacts and amends laws other than the ones to be enacted by the NPC. When the NPC is not in session, it may supplement and amend laws enacted by the NPC, but must not contradict the basic principles of such laws. The Law on Legislation also stipulates that the following must be governed by law: affairs concerning state sovereignty; formation, organization, and functions and powers of state organs; the system of regional ethnic autonomy; the system of special administrative regions; the system of primary-level self-governance; criminal offences and their punishment; mandatory measures and penalties involving deprivation of citizens' political rights or restriction of the freedom of the person; requisition of non-state-owned property; basic civil system; basic economic system; basic systems of fiscal administration, taxation, customs, finance and foreign trade; systems of litigation and arbitration; and other affairs.
The laws enacted by the NPC and its Standing Committee establish the important and basic legal systems in the nation's economic, political, cultural, social and ecological civilization construction, are the main body of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics and provide an important basis for the formulation of administrative and local regulations.
Administrative regulations are an important component of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics. The State Council formulates administrative regulations in accordance with the Constitution and laws, which is an important form of the State Council's implementation of its responsibility endowed by the Constitution and laws. The administrative regulations may regulate matters concerning the implementation of the provisions of the laws and performance of the administrative functions and powers of the State Council. For matters that shall be governed by laws to be formulated by the NPC and its Standing Committee, the State Council may enact administrative regulations first in its place with authorization from the NPC and its Standing Committee. The administrative regulations occupy an important position in the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics by detailing the related systems stipulated by laws, elaborating and supplementing the laws.
The State Council, in accordance with the actual needs of socioeconomic development and administrative work, has enacted - within its statutory power limits and conforming to legal procedures - a large number of administrative regulations which cover all areas of administration, concerning the nation's economic, political, cultural and social matters. They play an important role in the implementation of the Constitution and laws, the guaranteeing of the reform and opening up and socialist modernization, the promotion of comprehensive, balanced and sustainable economic and social development and the advancement of administration in accordance with law of the people's governments at all levels.
Local regulations are another important component of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics. The people's congresses and their standing committees of the provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the central government, and the larger cities may, in accordance with the Constitution and laws, formulate local regulations, which is an important channel and form of the people's participation in the administration of state affairs and promotion of local economic and social development by law. The people's congresses and their standing committees of the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government may, in the light of the specific local conditions and actual needs, formulate local regulations, provided that they do not contradict the Constitution, the laws and the administrative regulations. The people's congresses and their standing committees of the larger cities may, in the light of the specific local conditions and actual needs, formulate local regulations, provided that they do not contradict the Constitution, laws, administrative regulations and local regulations of their respective provinces or autonomous regions. Moreover, they shall submit such regulations to the standing committees of the people's congresses of the provinces or autonomous regions for approval before implementation. The people's congresses of the ethnic autonomous areas have the power to formulate autonomous regulations and separate regulations on the basis of the political, economic and cultural characteristics of the local ethnic group(s). Where certain provisions of the laws and administrative regulations are concerned, adaptation may be made in autonomous regulations and separate regulations, but such adaptation may not contradict the basic principles of the laws and administrative regulations. However, no adaptation may be made to the provisions of the Constitution and the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy, or the provisions in other laws and administrative regulations that are specially formulated to govern the ethnic autonomous areas. The autonomous regulations and separate regulations of the autonomous regions shall be submitted to the Standing Committee of the NPC for approval before they go into effect. The autonomous regulations and separate regulations of the autonomous prefectures or counties shall be submitted to the standing committees of the people's congresses of the relevant provinces, autonomous regions or municipalities directly under the central government for approval before they go into effect. The people's congresses and their standing committees of the provinces and cities where special economic zones are located may, upon authorization by the NPC and its Standing Committee and in the light of specific local conditions and actual needs, formulate regulations in accordance with provisions of the Constitution and basic principles of the laws and administrative regulations, and enforce them within the limits of the special economic zones. Local regulations may be formulated to govern matters requiring the formulation of rules to implement the provisions of laws and administrative regulations, and matters pertaining to local affairs. Except for matters governed by laws exclusively formulated by the NPC and its Standing Committee, local regulations can also be made on other matters which are not yet covered by existing laws and administrative regulations. The local regulations also occupy an important position in the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics. They elaborate and supplement the laws and administrative regulations, extend and improve national legislation and accumulate useful experience for national legislation.
Local people's congresses and their standing committees, which actively exercise local legislative functions and powers, have enacted a large number of local regulations in the light of the actual conditions of local economic and social development, playing an important role in guaranteeing the effective implementation of the Constitution, laws and administrative regulations within their respective administrative regions, and promoting the reform and opening up and socialist modernization drive.
2. Branches of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics
Laws related to the Constitution. The laws related to the Constitution are the collection of legal norms supporting the Constitution and directly guaranteeing its enforcement and the operation of state power. They regulate the political relationships of the state and mainly consist of laws in relation to the establishment, organization, functions, powers and basic working principles of state organs; laws on the system of regional ethnic autonomy, the system of special administrative regions and the primary-level self-governance; laws in relation to maintaining state sovereignty, territorial integrity, national security and national symbols; and laws in relation to guaranteeing the basic political rights of citizens. By the end of August 2011 China had enacted 38 laws related to the Constitution, as well as a number of administrative and local regulations.
China has formulated electoral laws related to the NPC and local people's congresses at all levels, organic laws of local people's congresses and people's governments at all levels, and developed mechanisms for the election of deputies of the people's congresses and the leadership of state organs, providing an institutional guarantee for the people's exercise of state power and a legal basis for the formation of state organs. It has enacted organic laws of the NPC, the State Council, the People's Courts and the People's Procuratorates, and established systems concerning the organization, function and power and limits of related state organs. To implement the "one country, two systems" policy and realize national reunification, it has promulgated the basic laws of the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and established the system of special administrative region which has ensured the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao. It has formulated organic laws governing urban residents' committees and villagers' committees for the establishment of urban and rural primary-level self-governance. In this way, citizens directly exercise the rights of democratic election, decision, administration and supervision by law, and implement democratic self-government of public and welfare affairs at the grassroots level, which have become the most direct and extensive democratic practices in the country. China has promulgated the Law on the Procedure for the Conclusion of Treaties, Law on Territorial Waters and the Contiguous Zones, Law on Exclusive Economic Zones and the Continental Shelf, Anti-Secession Law, Law on the National Flag, Law on the National Emblem, and other laws, and established a legal system which maintains state sovereignty and territorial integrity while safeguarding the fundamental interests of the country. It has enacted the Law on Assemblies, Processions and Demonstrations, Law on State Compensation, and other laws, as well as administrative regulations concerning ethnic group, religion, petition, and publication and registration of mass organizations, which guarantee the basic political rights of the citizens.
China fully protects its citizens' right to vote and stand for election. Elections follow the principles of universal suffrage and equality, and are carried out in the forms of direct, indirect and competitive elections. The Constitution stipulates that all citizens of the People's Republic of China who have reached the age of 18, except persons who have been deprived of their political rights in accordance with the law, shall have the right to vote and stand for election, regardless of ethnic status, race, sex, occupation, family background, religious belief, education, property status or length of residence. To guarantee its citizens' right to vote and stand for election, China is constantly modifying and improving the electoral system in accordance with the country's actual conditions, and has gradually realized the election of deputies to the people's congresses consonant with the proportion of the populations in urban and rural areas, and ensured that an appropriate number of representatives can appear at the NPC from all regions, ethnic groups and walks of life, realizing complete equality of the voting right of urban and rural residents.
China has enacted the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy, which ensures the implementation of the system of regional ethnic autonomy, fully respects and guarantees the right of ethnic minorities to administer their own affairs, and protects the legitimate rights and interests of the ethnic minorities by law. According to the Constitution and laws, China has currently 155 ethnic autonomous areas, i.e. five autonomous regions, 30 autonomous prefectures and 120 autonomous counties (banners). In addition, there are over 1,100 villages where ethnic minorities live in concentrated communities. According to the Constitution and the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy, ethnic autonomous areas have extensive autonomous power. First, they have the exclusive right to govern the local affairs of their ethnic groups and other affairs within their respective administrative regions. The chairman or vice-chairmen of the standing committee of the people's congress of an ethnic autonomous area must be a member of the ethnic group exercising regional autonomy in the area, and the head of an autonomous region, autonomous prefecture or autonomous county must be a citizen of the ethnic group exercising regional autonomy in the area concerned. Secondly, the people's congresses of ethnic autonomous areas have the power to enact regulations on the exercise of autonomy and separate regulations in the light of the political, economic and cultural characteristics of the ethnic group or groups in the areas concerned, and by law may also make adaptations to the provisions of laws and administrative regulations in the light of the characteristics of the ethnic group(s) in the areas concerned. By the end of August 2011, the ethnic autonomous areas had enacted more than 780 regulations on the exercise of autonomy, as well as separate regulations, which are currently in force. Thirdly, ethnic autonomous areas use and develop their own spoken and written languages. Fifty-three of the 55 minority groups have their own languages, and there are altogether 72 languages; 29 minority groups have their own scripts. The system of regional ethnic autonomy established by the Constitution and the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy is consistent with the common interests and development needs of all China's ethnic groups. It guarantees the minority groups' self-government of their own affairs by law, their democratic participation in the administration of state and social affairs, and their equal entitlement to economic, political, social and cultural rights, and maintains relations of equality, solidarity, mutual assistance and harmony among ethnic groups.
China respects and upholds human rights. The Constitution has comprehensive stipulations on the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens. The state has promulgated a series of laws and regulations and has developed a comparatively complete legal system to protect human rights, and ensures the citizens' right to subsistence and development, personal rights and property rights, freedom of religious belief, of speech, of the press, of the assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration, the right to social security and education, as well as other economic, political, social and cultural rights. The Constitution stipulates that citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy the freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The State Council has also promulgated the Regulations on Religious Affairs. Currently China has a total of more than 100 million believers in various religions, and the state fully protects its citizens' freedom of religious belief. The Constitution also provides that citizens who have suffered losses as a result of infringement of their civic rights by any state organ or functionary have the right to compensation in accordance with the provisions of the law. The state has enacted the Law on State Compensation and established the system of state compensation to effectively guarantee the right to state compensation of all citizens, legal persons and other organizations in accordance with the law.
Civil and commercial laws. Civil laws adjust property and personal relationships between civil subjects with equal status, that is, between citizens, between legal persons and between citizens and legal persons, and follow the principles of equal status between civil subjects, autonomy of will, fairness, honesty and credibility, and other basic principles. Commercial laws adjust commercial relationships between business subjects, and follow the basic principles of Civil Law and the principles of the freedom of commercial transaction, compensation of equal value and convenience and safety, among other principles. By the end of August 2011 China had promulgated 33 civil and commercial laws, as well as a large number of administrative and local regulations concerning commercial activities.
The state enacted the General Principles of the Civil Law, which establishes the basic principles that shall be followed in civil and commercial activities, and defines the target of regulation and basic principles of civil laws, as well as the systems concerning civil subjects, civil activities, civil rights and civil liability. With the development of the market economy, China gradually formulated the Contract Law, Property Law, Law on the Contracting of Rural Land and other laws, and established and improved the system of creditors' rights and the system of property rights including the proprietary rights, usufructuary rights and collateral rights; enacted the Tort Law and improved the tort responsibility system; promulgated the Marriage Law, Adoption Law, Succession Law and other laws and established and improved the marriage and family system; formulated the Law of the Application of Law in Foreign-related Civil Relations and improved the legal system of civil relations with foreigners; made the Company Law, Partnership Enterprise Law, Law on Individual Proprietorship Enterprises, Law on Commercial Banks, Law on Securities Investment Fund, Law on Specialized Farmers' Cooperatives, and other laws, and established and improved the system of business subjects. It also promulgated Securities Law, Maritime Code, Negotiable Instruments Law, Insurance Law and other laws, and established and improved the system of commercial activities. The systems of maritime trade, negotiable instruments, insurance, securities and other market economic activities gradually took form and quickly developed.
China attaches great importance to the protection of intellectual property rights, and has promulgated a large number of laws and regulations, including the Patent Law, Trademark Law, Copyright Law, Regulations on the Protection of Computer Software, Regulations on the Protection of Integrated Circuit Layout Design, Regulations on the Collective Administration of Copyright, Regulations on the Protection of the Right to Network Dissemination of Information, Regulations on the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, Regulations on the Customs Protection of Intellectual Property Rights, Regulations on the Administration of Special Signs, Regulations on the Protection of Olympic Symbols, and other laws and regulations, centered on the protection of intellectual property rights. The promulgation of the Trademark Law in 1982 marked the beginning of China's systematic development of a modern legal system covering intellectual property rights. To further enhance the protection of intellectual property rights in China and meet the requirements for joining the WTO, China has been constantly improving the legal system of intellectual property rights, and has made a number of amendments to the Patent Law, Trademark Law, Copyright Law and other laws to highlight legal protection of the promotion of scientific and technological advancement and innovation from the perspectives of the principles of legislation, the contents of rights, the standard of protection and the means of legal remedy, among others. By the end of 2010, the state had approved over 3,890,000 patents of various types, and effectively registered over 4,600,000 trademarks, including 670,000 trademarks from 177 countries and regions. According to incomplete statistics, during the period 2001-2010 copyright administration organs at various levels confiscated 707 million pirated copies, delivered 93,000 administrative penalties and transferred 2,500 cases to judicial organs.
To promote the reform and opening up, and expand international economic cooperation and technical exchanges, China enacted Law on Chinese-Foreign Equity Joint Ventures, Law on Foreign-funded Enterprises and Law on Chinese-Foreign Cooperative Joint Ventures, with provisions on the investment conditions, procedures, operation, supervision, administration, and the protection of legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors in China. The state has established the principle that foreign investors should respect China's sovereignty when investing in China and other principles, including the protection of investors' legitimate rights and interests, equality and mutual benefit, extending of preferential policies and conforming to international prevailing norms, creating a favorable environment for foreign investors in China. To better implement the principles of equality and mutual benefit and conforming to international prevailing norms, China has made several amendments to the above three laws, and fully guarantees the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors in their investment and commercial activities in China. By the end of 2010 China had approved the establishment of 710,747 foreign-funded enterprises with an actual investment of US$1.107858 trillion, which fully demonstrates the constant improvement of China's legal system regarding the protection of foreign investors.
Administrative laws. Administrative laws are the collection of legal norms on the granting, execution and supervision of administrative power. They regulate the relationships between administrative authorities and subjects of administration because of administrative activities, follow the principles of statutory remit, statutory procedure, fairness and openness, and effective supervision, and guarantee the discharge of the functions and powers of administrative organs, as well as the rights of citizens, legal persons and other organizations. By the end of August 2011 China had enacted 79 administrative laws and a large number of administrative and local regulations regulating administrative power.
China attaches great importance to the regulation of the administrative organs' execution of their power, strengthens the supervision of the execution of administrative power in accordance with the law, and ensures the correct execution of administrative power by administrative organs. China has formulated the Law on Administrative Penalties, established the basic principles of penalty by law, fairness and openness, corresponding penalty for offence and combination of penalty and education, standardized the enactment rights of administrative penalties, developed fairly complete procedures of the decision and execution of administrative penalties, and established the hearing system of administrative penalties, by which an administrative organ, before making a decision on administrative penalty that may have a significance influence on the production and life of the party concerned, shall notify the party the right to request a hearing. The state has promulgated the Administrative Reconsideration Law, established the self-correction mechanism within administrative organs, and provided remedies to citizens, legal persons and other organizations for the protection of their legitimate rights and interests. Under this law, about 80,000 cases of administrative dispute are handled each year. The state has enacted the Administrative Licensing Law, which regulates the institution, executive organs and procedures of administrative licensing, standardizes the system of administrative licensing, and, in order to reduce the number of administrative licensing, defines the matters involved in the application for administrative licensing. It also stipulates that administrative licensing will not be used for matters in which citizens, legal persons and other organizations can make decisions themselves, matters which can be effectively regulated by the competitive mechanism of the market, matters which the organizations of trades or intermediary bodies can manage through self-discipline, and matters which administrative departments can solve by other administrative means such as subsequent supervision. In order to thoroughly implement the Administrative Licensing Law, the 11th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 10th NPC passed nine amendments, removing 11 types of administrative licensing. The State Council canceled 1,749 matters of administrative licensing at the central level, changed the administrative method for 121 matters and transferred 46 matters to lower administrative levels. The state has promulgated the Administrative Coercion Law, which clearly defines the principles of the institution and execution of administrative enforcement, standardizes the types, statutory limits, executive bodies and procedures of administrative enforcement, providing a legal basis for the guarantee and supervision of the administrative organs' performance of administrative functions and powers in accordance with the law, and the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of citizens, legal persons and other organizations.
China attaches great importance to the protection of the ecological environment for mankind's survival and sustainable development. The state has promulgated the Environmental Protection Law, which lays down the basic principle of coordinated development of economic construction, social development and environmental protection, and dictates that governments at all levels, all organizations and individuals have the right and duty to protect the environment. To prevent negative impact on the environment in the course of project construction, the state has enacted the Law on Environmental Impact Assessment. The state has enacted laws for specific targets in environmental protection, such as those on prevention and control of water pollution, marine environment, atmospheric pollution, environmental noise pollution, environmental pollution by solid waste, radioactive pollution, and other laws. The State Council has formulated the Regulations on the Administration of Environmental Protection of Project Construction, Regulations on the Safe Management of Hazardous Chemicals, Regulations on the Collection and Use of Pollutant Discharge Fees, Measures on the Administration of Permits for Operations Involving Hazardous Waste, and other administrative regulations. The local people's congresses, in the light of the specific local conditions in their respective areas, have drawn up a large number of local regulations on environmental protection. China has established a system of national environmental protection standards, and had implemented over 1,300 national environmental protection standards by the end of 2010. China is also constantly strengthening the administrative enforcement of environmental protection laws. Over the past five years the state has investigated over 80,000 cases of violation of environmental protection laws, and has closed down 7,293 offending operations in accordance with the law.
China has also enacted the Education Law, Compulsory Education Law, Higher Education Law, Vocational Education Law, Teachers Law, Regulations on the Administration of Kindergartens, Regulations on the Qualifications of Teachers, and Regulations on Chinese-Foreign Cooperation in Running Schools to establish and improve its national education system. It has enacted the Drug Administration Law, Law on Maternal and Infant Health Care, Blood Donation Law, Law on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, Law on Physical Culture and Sport, Frontier Health and Quarantine Law, Food Safety Law, Regulations on the Supervision and Administration of Medical Devices, Regulations on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Anti-Doping Regulations to establish and improve the medical health system to ensure the people's health and safety. It has enacted the Law on Residents' Identity Cards, Law on the Control of Frontier Exit and Entry of Citizens, Law on the Control of Guns, Fire Prevention Law, Law on the Control of Narcotics, Law on Public Security Penalties, Emergency Response Law, Regulations on Detention Centers, Regulations on Safety Management of Large-Scale Mass Activities, and Regulations on the Safety Administration of Fireworks and Firecrackers to establish and improve systems aimed at maintaining social order and stability, promoting social harmony and ensuring public security. China has enacted the Civil Servants Law, People's Police Law, Law on Diplomatic Personnel, and Punishment Ordinance for Civil Servants Working in Administrative Organs to set up and improve the system of public service. China has enacted the National Defense Mobilization Law, Law on the Protection of Military Installations, Civil Air Defense Law, Military Service Law, Law on National Defense Education, Regulations on the Recruitment of Soldiers, and Militia Work Regulations to establish and improve the system of national defense and armed forces building. It has formulated the Law on Science and Technology Progress, Law on Popularization of Science and Technology, Law on the Protection of Cultural Relics, Law on the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Regulations on the Protection of Fossils, Regulations on the Protection of the Great Wall, and Regulations on the Administration of Films to establish and improve the system to promote scientific and technological progress, and protect and nourish culture.
Economic laws. Economic laws are a collection of laws and regulations which adjust social and economic relations arising from the state's intervening in, managing and regulating economic activities for the society's overall interests. They provide legal devices and an institutional framework for the state to conduct appropriate intervention in, and macro control of the market economy, thereby preventing malpractices resulting from spontaneous and blind operation of the market economy. By the end of August 2011 China had formulated 60 economic laws and a large number of related administrative and local regulations.
China has enacted the Budget Law, Price Law, and Law on the People's Bank of China to exercise macro-control and management over economic activities. It has formulated the Law on Corporate Income Tax, Individual Income Tax Law, Law on Vehicle and Vessel Taxation, Law on the Administration of Tax Collection, Provisional Regulations on Value-Added Tax, Provisional Regulations on Business Tax, and Provisional Regulations on City Maintenance and Construction Tax to improve the taxation system. It has enacted the Law on Regulation and Supervision of the Banking Industry, and Law on Anti-Money Laundering to supervise and regulate the banking industry to ensure its safe operation. It has enacted the Agriculture Law, Seed Law, and Law on Agricultural Product Quality and Safety to guarantee agricultural development and food safety of the country. It has formulated the Railway Law, Highway Law, Civil Aviation Law, and Electric Power Law to supervise and administer key industries and promote their development. It has formulated the Land Administration Law, Forest Law, Water Law, and Mineral Resources Law to regulate the rational exploitation and utilization of important natural resources. It has enacted the Energy Conservation Law, Renewable Energy Law, Circular Economy Promotion Law, and Law on the Promotion of Clean Production to promote the effective utilization of energy and development of renewable energy.
China stresses the use of laws to safeguard fair and orderly competition among market players. The Anti-Unfair Competition Law is an important law formulated by China during its transition from the planned economy to the market economy. By drawing lessons from other countries, it makes provisions to forbid counterfeiting, commercial bribery, false publicity, infringement on trade secrets, unfair lottery-attached sales and vilifying competitors to safeguard the rights and interests of commercial operators and enable them to compete fairly and justly. The Price Law stipulates that the state institutes and gradually improves a mechanism under which prices are formed mainly by the market under the state's macro-economic control. The prices of most commodities and services shall be regulated by the market while the prices of a very small number of commodities and services shall be guided or fixed by the government. The Anti-Monopoly Law has prohibitive provisions on monopolistic agreements, abuse of dominant market positions, and concentration of business operators that eliminates or restricts competition. China has carried out reforms to its fiscal, taxation, banking, foreign exchange and investment systems, establishing a macro-management system suited to the market economy. Remarkable achievements have been made in the deregulation of markets within the Chinese economy.
China actively discharges its obligations within the framework of the WTO, constantly improves its legal system regarding foreign trade, and has established a foreign trade system suited to the socialist market economy. It has clearly defined the rights and obligations of those engaged in foreign trade, and has improved the system of managing import and export of goods, technologies and the international service trade. It has established a foreign trade survey and promotion system with Chinese characteristics. In the light of WTO rules, China has improved its trade remedy system, customs supervision, and import and export commodity inspection and quarantine system, and established a unified and transparent foreign trade system. China's foreign trade has been expanding rapidly, and the ratio of its total export-import volume to the international trade volumes keeps rising. In 2010 the ratio of China's exports in the world's total was 10.4 percent.
Social laws. China's social laws are the collection of laws and regulations with respect to the adjustment of labor relations, social security, social welfare and protection of the rights and interests of special groups. It follows the principle of justice, harmony and appropriate state intervention. By performing their duties, the state and society provide necessary protection for the rights and interests of laborers, the unemployed, the incapacitated for work, as well as other special groups in need of help so as to safeguard social equity and promote social harmony. By the end of August 2011, China had enacted 18 laws in this particular field and a large number of administrative and local regulations to regulate labor relations and social security.
China's Labor Law deals with labor relations and other relationships closely related to them, such as labor protection, labor safety and hygiene, occupational training, labor disputes and labor supervision, thus establishing China's basic labor system. China has enacted the Law on Mine Safety, Law on Prevention and Control of Occupational Diseases, and Production Safety Law and some other laws, making provisions for safe production and prevention of occupational diseases, and strengthening the protection of the rights and interests of laborers. It has enacted the Labor Contract Law, Employment Promotion Law, and Law on Labor Dispute Mediation and Arbitration, thus establishing and improving the system, which is suited to the socialist market economy, of labor contract, employment promotion and labor dispute settlement. It has enacted the Red Cross Society Law, Law on Donation for Public Welfare Undertakings and Regulations on Foundation Administration, thereby establishing and improving the system that promotes the development and administration of public welfare undertakings. It has formulated the Trade Union Law and revised it twice, defining the status of trade unions in the country's political, economic and social life, clarifying the rights and obligations of trade unions, and playing an active role in safeguarding laborers' legitimate rights and interests in accordance with the law.
China attaches importance to the building of its social security system. It has enacted the Social Insurance Law, established a social insurance system which covers both rural and urban residents, basic endowment insurance, basic health insurance, work-related injury insurance, unemployment insurance and maternity insurance, guaranteeing that all citizens can get necessary material aid and living allowances when they get old, sick, injured or unemployed, or give birth. It stipulates that the basic endowment funds should be managed at the national level, and other social insurance funds managed at the provincial level. It has set up a system for the inter-regional transfer of laborers' social security. The State Council has enacted the Regulations on Unemployment Insurance, Regulations on Work-related Injury Insurance, Provisional Regulations on Collection and Payment of Social Insurance Premiums, and Regulations on the Work Regarding the Rural Five Guarantees. It has decided to establish a new rural endowment insurance and new rural cooperative health care system. They all play an important role in promoting the building of a social security system. The gradual establishment of the social security system provides legal guarantee for the Chinese government to accelerate the building of the social security network in accordance with the law, safeguard social equality and build a harmonious society. At present, the coverage of China's social security is expanding from state-owned enterprises to various social and economic organizations, from workers and staff members of organizations to self-employed people and other residents, and from the urban areas to the rural areas. By the end of 2010 the endowment insurance system of urban workers covered 257 million people, an increase of 1.7 times compared with 2002, and the new rural endowment insurance system covered 103 million people. The basic health insurance for rural and urban residents covered 1.26 billion people, 13 times the number in 2002. Work-related injury insurance covered 161 million people. The coverage of unemployment insurance and maternity insurance is also expanding rapidly. The State Council has also formulated the Measures for Assisting Vagrants and Beggars with No Means of Support in Cities, Regulations on Legal Aid, Regulations on Natural Disaster Relief, and Regulations on Minimum Subsistence Allowance for Urban Residents, and has decided to set up a minimum subsistence allowance program for rural residents, thus basically establishing a social relief system covering both urban and rural areas. By the end of 2010 some 77 million residents with financial difficulties in China received minimum subsistence allowance. The level of China's social security is constantly improving, and people are sharing the fruits of development.
China pays great attention to the protection of the rights and interests of special groups. It has enacted the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, Law on the Protection of Minors, Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women, Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly, and Law on the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency. It has developed a comparatively complete legal system to protect the rights and interests of special groups, which plays an important role in protecting the legitimate rights and interests of special groups, and in safeguarding social equity and justice.
Criminal Law. This is the law that defines crimes and penalties. It aims to punish crime and protect the people, maintain social order and public security, and safeguard national security through regulating the state's power of punishment. By the end of August 2011 China had enacted the Criminal Law and eight amendments to it, as well as decisions on punishing fraudulent purchase of foreign exchange, evading foreign exchange control, and illegal trade in foreign exchange, plus nine legal interpretations on the Criminal Law.
The Criminal Law defines clearly these basic principles: punishment of crimes is defined by law, everyone is equal before the law, and punishment should match the severity of the crime. It expressly stipulates that any act deemed by explicit stipulations of the law as a crime is to be convicted and given punishment by law, and that any act that is not deemed a crime by the explicit stipulations of the law is not to be convicted or given punishment. The law shall be equally applied to anyone who commits a crime. No one shall have the privilege of transcending the law. The degree of punishment shall be commensurate with the crime committed and the criminal responsibility to be borne by the offender. The Criminal Law of China defines various types of crime and types of punishment, including public surveillance, criminal detention, fixed-term imprisonment, life imprisonment and the death penalty. It also includes three accessory penalties - fine, deprivation of political rights and confiscation of property. In addition, it states the concrete application of punishments. It identifies ten criminal acts and corresponding criminal liability, namely the crimes of endangering national security, endangering public security, undermining the order of the socialist market economy, infringing upon the rights of the person and the democratic rights of citizens, encroaching on property, disrupting the order of social administration, endangering the interests of national defense, embezzlement and bribery, dereliction of duty, and servicemen's transgression of duties.
In the light of the actual situation brought about by economic and social development, China promptly revises and interprets its Criminal Law in an effort to improve the criminal legal system. Amendment VIII to the Criminal Law, passed in February 2011, made major revisions of the previous Criminal Law. It eliminates capital punishment for 13 non-violent economic-related offences, thus reducing the number of crimes subject to the death penalty by 19.1 percent; it improves legal provisions that give more lenient punishment and non-custodial penalties to minors and elderly people who have reached the age of 75; it stipulates that refusing to pay wages, seriously infringing upon the legal rights and interests of laborers, and drunk driving are criminal offences; it gives harsher punishment for criminal offences in violation of citizens' personal freedom, life and health. All this has improved China's criminal justice system, strengthened the protection of human rights, reflecting the development of China's social civilization and progress in the spheres of democracy and rule of law.
Litigation and Non-litigation Procedure Laws. These are laws giving standard solutions to various litigation and non-litigation activities arising from social disputes. The litigation system aims to regulate the state's judicial activities in settling social disputes, and the non-litigation system aims to regulate arbitration agencies and people's mediation organizations in settling social disputes. By the end of August 2011 China had enacted ten laws in the fields of litigation and non-litigation procedure.
China's Criminal Procedure Law stipulates the basic system and principles of criminal procedures. For instance, the law applies equally to all citizens; the people's courts and people's procuratorates exercise judicial authority and procuratorial powers independently; the people's courts, people's procuratorates and public security organs divide their responsibilities, coordinate their efforts and check each other; ensure that criminal suspects and defendants obtain defense; and no one shall be convicted without a court decision. It also specifies the procedures such as jurisdiction, withdrawal, defense, evidence, enforcement measures, investigation, prosecution, trial and execution, which effectively guarantee the correct application of the Criminal Law, protect the personal, property, democratic and other rights of citizens so as to ensure the smooth progress of the cause of socialism.
China's Civil Procedure Law stipulates the following basic principles and system: the parties to civil litigation shall have equal litigation rights; mediation shall be conducted for the parties on a voluntary and lawful basis; the court shall follow the system of public trial and the court of second instance being that of last instance. It makes clear the litigation rights and obligations of the parties concerned, the use of evidence, the civil trial procedures such as ordinary procedure of first instance, procedure of second instance, summary procedure, special procedure, procedure for trial supervision, and procedure of execution and enforcement execution measures.
China's Administrative Procedure Law defines the legal remedy system in administrative lawsuits. It explicitly stipulates that a citizen, a legal person or other organization has the right to initiate an administrative lawsuit at a people's court in accordance with this law if they believe their lawful rights and interests are infringed upon by an administrative organ or staff working in it, and the people's court exercises judicial power independently with respect to administrative cases to protect the legal rights and interests of the citizens. Since the promulgation and implementation of the Administrative Procedure Law, the people's courts have accepted over 100,000 cases annually on average, protecting the lawful rights and interests of the citizens and making the administrative organs exercise their administrative powers according to law.
China's Arbitration Law has provisions for the establishment of domestic arbitration and foreign-related arbitration agencies, stipulates that an arbitration commission shall be independent of any administrative organ, which guarantees its independence. It also specifies that arbitration should be conducted upon a voluntary and independent basis, and that a system of a single and final award shall be practiced for arbitration. It also contains details about arbitration procedures. Since the promulgation of this law over 500,000 cases of economic disputes have been handled, involving a total sum of 700 billion yuan. It has played an important role in settling civil and economic disputes fairly, promptly and effectively, protecting the lawful rights and interests of the parties concerned, maintaining social and economic stability and promoting social harmony.
People's mediation is a Chinese way of resolving contradictions and settling disputes without resorting to legal proceedings. The Constitution and Civil Procedure Law specify the nature and fundamental principles of people's mediation, and the State Council has promulgated the Organic Regulations on the People's Mediation Commissions. In 2009 people's mediation organizations mediated over 7.67 million civil disputes, with a success rate of over 96 percent. In order to further promote people's mediation work and improve the system, China has formulated the People's Mediation Law, making the good experience and practices accumulated in this field into law. At present, there are more than 820,000 people's mediation organizations in China, and 4.67 million people's mediators, forming a mediation network covering both rural and urban areas. They are playing an important role in preventing and reducing civil disputes, resolving social conflicts, and maintaining social harmony and stability.
In addition, China has formulated the Extradition Law, Special Maritime Procedure Law, Law on Labor Dispute Mediation and Arbitration, and Law on the Mediation and Arbitration of Rural Land Contracting Disputes, thereby establishing and improving the system of litigation and non-litigation procedure laws.
The above-mentioned laws and regulations made by legislative bodies cover all aspects of society, bring all the work of the state and all aspects of social life under the rule of law, laying a solid foundation for the rule of law and construction of a socialist country under the rule of law. Law has become an important means for Chinese citizens, legal persons and other organizations to resolve disputes and conflicts. It also provides an important basis for the people's courts at all levels to safeguard the lawful rights and interests of citizens, legal persons and other organizations.