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Develop the System of Socialist Rule of Law with Chinese Characteristics

Source: Xi Jinping The Governance of China IV Updated: 2023-11-17

Develop the System of Socialist Rule of Law with Chinese Characteristics*

December 6, 2021

I have emphasized on many occasions that respect for the law contributes to the prosperity of a nation and the rise of a country. As China is now at a crucial stage for national rejuvenation and the world is experiencing an accelerating rate of change on a scale unseen in a century, we face formidable tasks in advancing reform, promoting development, maintaining stability, and further opening up. It is essential that the rule of law plays its role in consolidating the foundations, stabilizing public expectations, and pursuing long-term interests.

Domestically, we are moving towards the Second Centenary Goal of building a modern socialist country. In this new development stage we are working to implement the new development philosophy, create a new development dynamic, and pursue high-quality development. We will meet the people’s growing demands for democracy, the rule of law, equity, justice, security, and a good environment. We will improve people’s quality of life and promote common prosperity. All these endeavors raise new and higher requirements for the rule of law. We must improve our capacity and performance in law-based governance across the board and provide firm legal support for realizing the Second Centenary Goal.

In a volatile world, international competition is increasingly manifesting the contention between systems, rules and laws. This requires us to strengthen the laws and regulations concerning foreign-related matters, and improve the efficacy of law enforcement and the judicature, so as to firmly safeguard our national sovereignty, security, and development interests.

In developing a system of Chinese socialist rule of law, we need to plan according to our needs and adopt a holistic approach. At present and in the near future, we should concentrate on the following tasks.

First, follow the right direction.

I have emphasized that the key to law-based governance lies in the right direction and effective political guarantees. Specifically, it means we must uphold the Party’s leadership and the system of Chinese socialism, and put into practice the theory of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics. The system of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics is an important component of Chinese socialism. We must always keep this in mind, and be fully committed to our path of socialist rule of law. We must properly handle the relationships between political governance and the rule of law, between reform and the rule of law, between the rule of law and the rule of virtue, and between law-based governance of the country and rule-based governance of the Party.

We must be clear-headed and take a firm stance on upholding overall leadership by the Party and the principle of the people as masters of the country. Staying true to our commitment to the people-centered philosophy, we will continue to rely on the people to develop the rule of law in their interests and for their benefit and protection. In the whole process of developing the system of socialist rule of law, we must represent the people’s interests, reflect their wishes, protect their rights and interests, and improve their wellbeing. This system must be based on China’s culture and conditions and solve its problems. We must not be misled by erroneous Western ideas.

Second, speed up legislation in key areas.

As an ancient Chinese thinker said, “Sound laws for the whole world lead to peace and order under Heaven, and sound laws for a country lead to peace and order in this country.” We need to strengthen legislation on national security, scientific and technological innovation, public health, biosafety and biosecurity, the eco-environment, and risk prevention. We should step up legislative efforts to make laws regulating the development of the digital economy, internet finance, artificial intelligence, big data, and cloud computing. And we need to improve laws and regulations that are urgently needed for state governance and are essential for satisfying the people’s growing expectation for a better life. Rule-based governance of the Party provides a political guarantee for the cause of our Party and country, and state laws and Party regulations should complement each other.

Work will be done to strengthen legislation on social matters of public concern affecting people’s wellbeing. Improvements will be made to laws to close loopholes and strengthen weak areas in supervision, to address problems of strong public concern, such as telecom and online fraud, new types of drug abuse, and those in the entertainment industry – fanatical celebrity cults, unregulated fan misconduct and exploitation, and dual contracts for tax evasion. There will be no tolerance with regard to these issues.

In recent years, the disorderly expansion of capital has become a salient problem. Unconstrained growth of the platform economy and the digital economy in the absence of adequate regulation has given rise to many problems in some sectors. Therefore, the Anti-Monopoly Law and the Anti-Unfair Competition Law need to be revised quickly, and relevant laws and regulations should be improved at a faster pace.

Mao Zedong said, “Constitution-making is a matter of science.” Focusing on the quality of legislation, we will conduct legislative work in a well-conceived manner, through a democratic process and in accordance with the law. We need to coordinate the promulgation, revision, abolition, interpretation, and compilation of laws to improve the efficiency of legislation and ensure that our legislation is systematic, holistic and synergetic. Ensuring consistency and coherence in the legal system is a serious political matter. Legislative bodies and relevant departments at all levels should follow legislative procedures, act strictly within the limits of their powers, and refrain from making laws beyond their authority or producing duplicated or ill-conceived legislation. They should do everything possible to effectively prevent departmental interests and local protectionism from interfering with legislative work.

“The most difficult thing about law is not legislation but law enforcement.” In advancing the rule of law, what is most important and also most difficult is to ensure that laws are enforced strictly, properly and impartially, and that everybody observes the law. It is imperative that we turn legislation on paper into law enforcement and compliance in action. Efforts will be made to guarantee that everyone is equal before the law, to safeguard the consistency, dignity and authority of the legal system, and to call to account anyone who violates the Constitution or other laws. Party organizations and leading officials at all levels must unswervingly support judicial bodies in independently exercising judicial power in accordance with the law. They should never abuse their power of office to interfere in the administration of justice or meddle in cases.

Third, further reform in the rule of law.

Some prominent problems in this domain are attributable to inadequate reform.

We will advance comprehensive and integrated reform of the judicial system and develop an impartial, efficient and authoritative socialist judicial system, so that our people can see equity and justice served in every piece of legislation, in every law enforcement decision, and in each judicial case.

We will improve the legal system to ensure social equity and justice, refine the public interest litigation system, the mechanisms for law enforcement, the exercise of supervision power and administration of justice, and strengthen checks and oversight concerning such powers.

We will move faster to establish a complete, procedure-based, and effective system of constraints to strengthen oversight over legislative, judicial, supervisory and law enforcement powers. We must improve the mechanisms under which discipline inspection and supervision departments, courts, and public security, prosecuting, and judicial administrative bodies perform their respective duties, while investigation, prosecuting, judicial, and enforcement powers are mutual restraints. This will ensure that the entire process of law enforcement and administration of justice is conducted under effective restraint and supervision.

We must strengthen overall planning and improve the training system of legal personnel. We should move faster to develop a corps of socialist legal professionals, including lawyers, notaries, judicial authenticators, arbitrators and mediators, who remain loyal to the Party, the country, the people, and the law.

We will further reform the management system of judicial and law enforcement personnel, and strengthen management, education and training of legal professionals. We will advance education and regulation of judicial, prosecuting and public security personnel, continue to combat corruption in law enforcement and administration of justice in accordance with the law, and take resolute action against criminal gangs and organized crime on a regular basis.

It should be noted that reform of the system of rule of law, which is of great political significance and bears on the implementation of policies, must follow the correct political direction and uphold fundamental principles. Never should anyone defer to the Western legal system or copy Western practices in the name of reform.

Fourth, apply legal means in international matters.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, we have coordinated our efforts in the rule of law in both domestic and international matters. Our capacity to defend the interests of the people and the country with legal means has grown remarkably.

We must continue to coordinate our efforts in this field at home and abroad. Prioritizing areas with urgent needs, we will strengthen foreign-related legislation, improve laws and regulations against sanctions, interference, and abuse of long-arm jurisdiction, and establish a legal system applicable beyond our borders. We should make cooperation in law enforcement and judicial activities an important topic on the agenda of bilateral and multilateral relations, and extend the security chain for protecting our overseas interests. We should train more professionals in foreign-related legal affairs.

Fifth, strengthen theoretical research and public education on the rule of law.

We have formed new concepts and measures on law-based governance of the country by summing up China’s experience in practicing the socialist rule of law, carrying forward the quintessence of Chinese legal culture, and drawing on international achievements in promoting the rule of law. At the Central Conference on Law-based Governance held in November 2020, I consolidated these concepts and measures into 11 points that we must continue to implement.

We must strengthen research on the original concepts, principles, domains and theories of the rule of law in China, and build a Chinese system of academic disciplines, research and discourse for the science of law.

We will introduce the thought on Chinese socialist rule of law for the new era into textbooks and the classroom of all law disciplines, so as to train more competent legal professionals with firm ideals and convictions, love for our country, and solid legal knowledge.

It is necessary to strengthen political guidance for lawyers, so that they consciously comply with the basic requirements for the profession, including supporting our Party’s leadership status and socialist rule of law, and they meet the expectations of the Party and the people.

To ensure observance of the law by all is a fundamental task. We will fully implement a responsibility program in which law enforcement departments are responsible for raising public awareness of the law.

Leading officials at all levels should set examples in respecting, studying, observing and applying the law, while at the same time guiding the people to observe the law and look to the law for solutions to problems whenever they arise.

We need to sum up China’s experience in developing and practicing the rule of law, elucidate our traditional culture in this area with stories and examples, and increase the international influence of our legal system and theories of the rule of law so that we can have a stronger voice on the global stage.

* Part of the speech at the 35th group study session of the Political Bureau of the 19th CPC Central Committee.

(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)