China embraces reforms to strengthen the rule of law

By Eugene Clark
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, October 20, 2014
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But the bottom line is that China's financial system has become much safer over the last couple of decades. There are better capital ratios, lower leveraging, better governance, less corruption, and greater transparency than ever before. The Basel Accord provides an important reminder of the role that voluntary "soft law" plays in promoting and enhancing the rule of law.

Progress towards the rule of law is also reflected in China's administrative law reforms and by increasingly responsive administrative agencies which are increasingly publishing more information, reporting decisions, seeking input and engaging with citizens through microblogs and other media. As early as 1989, the National People's Congress (NPC) passed the Administrative Procedure Law, which enabled challenges to all administrative acts on legal grounds. According to statistics from the Supreme People's Court (SPC), Chinese courts have accepted almost a million and half administrative lawsuit cases from 1989 to 2008. The 1994 Administrative Procedural Law allows citizens to sue officials for abuse of authority or malfeasance. Also, China's criminal law and the criminal procedures laws have been substantially amended to make judicial proceedings more transparent and to enhance the trial process.

Reforms of property law, social insurance law, tort liability law, consumer law, employment law and food safety law have also been passed and implemented by the NPC. Many of these laws provide greater rights to migrants, a reflection of the reality that rule of law has not been confined to economics, but has reached all levels of Chinese society. Modern technology has also played an important role in enabling the rule in law. The publication of judicial decisions online, the participation of citizens in government microblogs, online petitions and the like have significantly advanced transparency, accountability and the involvement of stakeholders.

China has appropriately refused to merely copy a particular foreign legal system. Instead, it has designed laws that meet China's specific needs and conditions. The implementation of new laws has often been on a trial basis so that individuals and organizations have an opportunity to adjust to the changes and provide valuable feedback. Laws must be regularly reviewed and amendments made to meet emerging needs and changed situations. The PRC has enhanced the rule of law cautiously and slowly, wisely preferring evolutionary change to a big bang policy shift which might create collateral damage and unintended consequences. No country ever fully achieves rule of law. Rule of law is an ongoing process of continuous improvement, and not a stagnant one-off event. In the writer's view, some of the issues that should receive consideration include:

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