Long and Bumpy Way to Go Towards a Real Rule of Law in China: Report

While the 4th Plenum of China's ruling Communist Party (CPC) beat expectations on legal reform, markets might still doubt if the CPC is serious enough to raise the status of China's constitution, and might question the implementation of these reforms, according to a BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research.

China's constitution, passed in 1982 post the severe inflictions of the Cultural Revolution, made big progress in granting political rights to citizens, according to the BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research. The 1982 Constitution was later revised in 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004.

"Despite the quite good contents of the constitution, there is no special organization tasked with the enforcement," says the BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research.

"The 4th Plenum memo stated the need to establish a sound system to implement and supervise the constitution implementation and supervision system, improve supervisions of the constitution from the National People's Congress (NPC) and its standing committee, and institute a better system for interpreting the constitution."

According to the communique released by the official Xinhua News Agency, China is to pilot a kind of circuit courts set up by the Supreme Court to separate judicial and administrative jurisdictions.

China will also explore the establishment of inter-administrative region courts and procuratorates. The Plenum also mentioned that courts should be separate from local governments in order to ensure the independence of the judicial system. 

The communique says to improve the decision-making mechanism in accordance with law and to include public participation, expert evaluation, risk assessment and group discussion in the legal procedures of major administrative decisions.

The government will establish a legality review mechanism for major internal decisions of government departments and create lifetime accountability for major decisions.

It will set up records of local government officials interfering with the judicial system and influencing the decision of individual cases. A system will be set up to punish such behaviors in order to protect judicial officers when they perform their duties. 

The Plenum also stated that judicial officers should be professionalized. Judges, procurators and legislation officials should be selected from qualified lawyers and legal experts.

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