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Rule of law for a better life

Updated: 2011-03-10 10:22
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Rule of law for a better life

Rule of law for a better life 

Rule of law for a better life

Rule of law is a basic strategy for China. The constitutional amendment of 1999 stipulates: "Rule of law is implemented in the People's Republic of China. The country is building itself into a socialist country ruled by law."

Guided by that strategy, the National People's Congress passed sizable laws and amendment bills in recent years, in an effort to guard citizens with an improved legal system in a fast-developing society.

In January 2011, top legislator Wu Bangguo announced that China has established a comprehensive socialist legal system, a system composed of 239 laws, 690 administrative regulations and about 8,600 regional regulations.

Chinese citizens have witnessed over recent years various renovations in the country's legal system, big and small, and how these changes have helped ensure a life of dignity and security.

Following are what the editor believes to be among the major developments of legislation, see if you agree.


Rule of law for a better life 

China has established a socialist system of laws. The country has 239 laws, among them the law of the highest authority is the Constitution. Under the Constitution, there are seven major law systems:

Rule of law for a better life

Rule of law for a better life


Lawful property better protected

Rule of law for a better life

Among the constitutional amendment bills, the 2004 amendment is regarded as a "breakthrough". The amended Constitution stipulates: "The country respects and protects human rights," and supports privately owned property: "Citizens' lawful privately owned property is inviolable."

This was followed by the passage of the Property Law in 2007. The law stipulates protection of property: "The property of the state, the collective, the individual and other invested parties is protected by law, and no units or individuals may infringe upon it."

Wang Zhaoguo, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), said that enacting the law is "necessitated by the need to safeguard the immediate interests of the people," who "urgently require effective protection of their own lawful property accumulated through hard work."

Rule of law for a better life

The legislation to cope specifically with property rights evoked nationwide attention, partly because it tackles the issue of compensation during housing demolitions and farmland expropriation. According to Article 42, real estate or farmland can be expropriated only for public interest, and house owners and farmers should be compensated for the expropriation.

Such rules contradict the demolition rules that allowed forced demolitions. Believed by some law experts to have been overturned by the Property Law, the demolition rules underwent revisions in 2010 as the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council turned to the public twice for advice.

The new demolition rules were published in January. According to the new rules, forced demolition by any administrative body, companies or individuals are forbidden, and the expropriation should be fairly compensated.

The new rules are believed to have helped end bloody demolitions that can hurt or even kill property owners, who will have legal support to bargain over their interests. Hopefully people will never have to light themselves on fire to keep their houses.


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- Equal suffrage for rural residents

Rule of law for a better life

Decades of industrialization cut the percentage of rural residents from 80 percent to less than 60 percent, who have been farming to feed the 1.3 billion people and building up the cities' skylines.

Their fates are what the country's modernization is built upon. Their voices are ringing loud enough for decision-makers to pay attention.

- Equal right to work for HBV carriers possible

That the NPC enacted the Law on Tort Liability in 2010 was regarded as further upholding equal civil rights- right to life, right to name, and copyright, to name a few, but for people like Lei Chuang, the most comforting part is the promise of their right to privacy and right to work.

"In today's world, I never think an individual's efforts are too weak to make a difference," said Lei, "the Don Quixote fighting HBV discrimination."




Rule of law for a better life



 Food safety emphasized

Rule of law for a better life

In 2008, the melamine scandal shocked parents across China with how their baby might be exposed to fatally tainted milk. Two years later, consumer confidence plummeted as several babies went through abnormal sexual development after getting infant formula from a domestic dairy company. Although a test run by the Ministry of Health excluded the product from the cause of precocity, mainland customers did not stop rushing to Hong Kong and Macao for infant formula.

The dairy industry is not alone in being mired in customers' mistrust. The unsolved mystery between muscle fiber breakdown and detergent-applied crayfish in Nanjing (link), and hot pot soup filled with illegal amounts of additives (link) have also alerted Chinese citizens.

Rule of law for a better life

The disturbing cases in recent years opened Chinese to the issue of tainted food that probably had hovered over their lives for a long time, and galvanized the legislature into action.

In 2009, the Standing Committee of the NPC passed the Food Safety Law, which forbids adding matter inedible or posing health hazard into food.

The Eighth Criminal Law Amendment Bill passed in 2011 stipulates the penalty- from imprisonment to death penalty- for making and selling tainted food.

If enforced with rigor, the legislation will help set up a sound inspection system and save the Chinese people from a hazardous diet.


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- Speeding on penalty list

Rule of law for a better life

The recent Criminal Law Amendment also adds speed driving and drunk driving to the penalty list, after the speeding case in Hangzhou and a police chief's son fatally hit a woman in Henan, to deter speeding, and most of all, to demonstrate that nobody has any privilege over any other's life.

- Crackdown on organ trafficking

Beijing's first case of human organ trafficking revealed an industry that had been going on for years, with donors in need of money, patients in need of healthy body parts, and traffickers profiting in between.

The Criminal Law Amendment Bill in 2011 targets cracking down on the dark trades. It stipulates specific offenses aimed at human organ traffickers, according to which, they could get the death penalty.

Setting up specific offenses helps prevent some trading people's health as well as protect social values and ethics.




Rule of law for a better life



 Custody and Repatriation abolished

Rule of law for a better life

1976: born in Huanggang, Hubei province


Feb, 2003: Worked as a graphic designer in Guangzhou

March 17, 2003: Went into custody for not having a temporary residence permit

March 20, 2003: Died in custody


Aug 1, 2003: Measures on Custody and Repatriation was abolished.

Above is the tombstone inscription of Sun Zhigang, beaten to death in a detention center in Guangzhou in 2003 at the age of 27, though he would never expect himself to be among the most memorable figures in China's legal progress. Nor would anyone else.

Rule of law for a better life

First revealed in an online forum, and then covered by the news media, Sun's death provoked torrential criticism on the Internet, and a petition by scholars who requested that NPC review the Measures on Custody and Repatriation.

The petition was the first time Chinese citizens asked the NPC to review an administrative act because of its unconstitutionality, said the magazine Outlook Weekly.

Four months later, the State Council abolished the Measures on Custody and Repatriation, and enacted the Measures on Helping Homeless People in Urban Areas.

Sun is said to have "pushed the rule of law forward at the price of his life." However, it is people who care that helped realize the change within five months, so that nobody will be detained for not having a living permit.


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- Police paying for intruding on privacy

Equally dramatic was the "porn video case" in Yan'an, Northwest Shaanxi province in August 2002.

Local police was informed that a couple were watching porn videos in a bedroom adjacent to the clinic they ran.

Four undercover policemen went to the clinic and wanted to confiscate the video. The two sides broke into a fight.

Two months later, the police detained the husband for disrupting public business, and filed an application to arrest him, but was refused by the procuratorate.

The incident ignited heated discussions. The husband was released after another two months, and received compensation in January 2003, with the help of his lawyer and, of course, the nationwide attention.