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Chinese Look to Key Party Session for Better Rule of Law
Source: news.cn
Source Date: Thursday, October 16, 2014
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs, Knowledge Management in Government, Citizen Engagement, Institution and HR Management, Internet Governance
Country: China
Created: Oct 21, 2014

Stuck in a lengthy lawsuit, Wang Jian, a small business owner from southwest China's Sichuan Province, is closely watching for news about an upcoming Party session slated to focus on rule of law.

"My case is a contract dispute. It is not very complicated, but has taken me more than two years in court," Wang told Xinhua. "I hope the meeting will produce concrete measures on judicial reform to help people like me."

The fourth plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee is set to open on Oct. 20 to discuss rule of law. This will be the first time for a Party session to center on rule of law as its theme.

"Now I don't really care about winning or losing the case. I just want a fair judgement in line with the law," Wang said.

As an ordinary citizen, he said he expects judicial reform to create a more efficient and just legal system, remove barriers and ease procedures.

The country's judicial reform was unfurled in June, when China's Leading Group for Overall Reform, a top-level reform planning body headed by President Xi Jinping, issued a general guideline.

In July, the Supreme People's Court published a five-year reform plan, and the country's financial hub of Shanghai initiated a pilot project to make judges more accountable and curb government intervention in courts.

The upcoming Party session is expected to speed up the current reforms and make progress on difficult problems.

From illegal demolitions to food safety and pollution control, ordinary people are hoping better legislation and law enforcement can help settle disputes and stop injustice.

"Air pollution is so serious. But so many factories that are shut down by authorities for causing pollution are opened again. The law must do something about them," said Hou Ping, who lives in a northeast suburb of Beijing, the nation's haze-plagued capital.

"I have seen the news about real estate developers demolishing people's houses and driving them out by force. Can the authorities and the law protect us?" said Zhang Mingyi, a taxi driver in the north Chinese city of Shijiazhuang. Zhang will soon start negotiations over demolition of his old house.

"All I want is for (the developers) to do it in a proper and legal way. Then I will not be worried," he said.

Curbing corruption and regulating government intervention in the market are two other hot issues the public hopes can be addressed through rule of law.

A fierce anti-corruption campaign has swept China, with dozens of high-level officials sacked and under investigation for graft. Officials have also been under stricter scrutiny for their behavior both at work and in private life.

North China's Shanxi Province has seen five members of the standing committee of the CPC Shanxi provincial committee, the province's top decision-making body, put under investigation for disciplinary violations.

Li Yue, who lives along the Fenhe River, a scenic area in the provincial capital of Taiyuan, said there are fewer high-end riverside clubs now, which she considers a result of the anti-corruption campaign.

"We certainly applaud the campaign. But how long can it last?" said Li.

Many with similar doubts expect the legal system to play a bigger role in policing officials and deterring them from graft so that anti-corruption efforts will be permanent.

Citizens also hope the session will work out measures to ensure the government operates in line with the law.

The current round of government restructuring, with hundreds of administrative approvals canceled and decentralized since last March, is aimed at releasing market forces and changing the government's role. But business people are calling for a clearer division between the government's duty and free market.

Wang Chunhong, who runs a small high-tech company in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, said he hopes the government can exercise its duty according to the laws and regulations.

"Many decisions and policies are far too flexible and changeable. In some cases, the government just barges in and we cannot do anything about it," he said. 

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