Rule of law must follow China's path

By Martin Sieff
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, October 24, 2014
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Top leaders including Party chief Xi Jinping attend the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in Beijing. [Lan Hongguang / Xinhua]

History was made at the Fourth Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, because for the first time a Party plenary session discussed the rule of law, to be precise, how to strengthen the rule of law and constitutional governance, and boost the ongoing anti-corruption campaign.

The four-day plenum that ended on Thursday was important for another reason: Party General Secretary Xi Jinping reiterated that he is committed to deepening reforms to boost economic transparency, public trust and investor confidence.

Recognizing the historic significance of the plenum, Jiang Ping, a professor at China University of Political Science and Law, said in an article, "No exceptions to the rule of law," in China Daily on Oct 20: "As a key step toward the rule of law, all forms of judicial reform should first emphasize the supremacy of the Constitution. This is the only way to remove the obstacles in the path of judicial reform. Judicial power belongs to courts, and courts should adhere to the Constitution and laws while passing verdicts ... There is a close link among China's efforts to promote political institutional reform, rule of law and judicial reform, because the rule of law is an important aspect of political institutional reform while judicial reform plays a crucial role in promoting the rule of law ... China has embarked on a long road to judicial reform, and it has experienced success and setbacks both on the way."

Now, the plenum's resolution will ensure that judicial reform does not meet with any more setbacks, for the reform is likely to focus on promoting constitutional governance, boosting the independent powers of the judiciary and the law-enforcement forces. Local courts are expected to get more powers, so that they can resist pressure from local Party committees and governments. And judges will now be treated less like any other civil servants and more like independent officials delivering just verdicts.

According to the plenum, judicial reform will promote judicial transparency, because a transparent judiciary is a precondition for judicial fairness. Pilot projects with these goals at their core have already been launched in some cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen, Guangdong province, to make judges more professional and independent.

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