The reform on the national supervisory system is a groundbreaking move to establish a supervisory system with Chinese characteristics. In the proposal on amendments to China’s Constitution, made public on February 25 by the Communist Party of China Central Committee, a new seventh section of “Supervisory Commission,” comprising five articles, is proposed to be added to the third chapter of the Constitution, titled “The Structure of the State.” The section stipulates the nature, status, title, composition of staff, term of office, leadership system and working mechanism of national and local supervisory commissions, laying the fundamental basis for the supervisory commissions to establish organizational structure, fulfill their functions and responsibilities, exercise relevant powers, build supporting mechanisms and reinforce self-supervision.
What are the structural composition and functions of this new type of state organ? The proposal suggests adding a new Article 124 to the Constitution, which stipulates that the People’s Republic of China establishes National Supervisory Commission and local supervisory commissions at different levels. A supervisory commission consists of a director, several deputy directors and a number of members. The term of office of the director is the same as that of the equivalent people’s congress. The director serves no more than two consecutive terms. The organization and powers are prescribed by law. The stipulation sets out the basic structural composition of supervisory commissions.
Based on China’s Constitution and reform practices, the national supervision law, which is in the process of being legislated, will specify the establishment of supervisory commissions at the national, provincial, municipal and county levels. The National Supervisory Commission will be so named to embody the change from supervision at an administrative level to supervision at the national level, indicating its status as the highest-level national organ. Names of local supervisory commissions are made up by the name of administrative divisions and supervisory commissions.
The directors of the supervisory commissions shall be elected by the people’s congresses at the corresponding level, while the standing committees of the people’s congresses appoint or remove deputy directors and members at the recommendations of the commissions’ directors. The supervisory commissions at different levels shall send or station supervisory agencies and ombudsmen to the Party organs, state organs, public organizations and units authorized by laws and regulations to handle public affairs, and state-owned enterprises at the respective corresponding levels.
The supervisory commissions’ main roles include investigating duty-related illegal activities and duty-related crimes, constructing a clean government, and launching anti-corruption campaigns, so as to safeguard the sanctity of the Constitution and the law. The commissions manage three major functions: supervision, investigation and handling; their powers include communication, questioning, enquiry, investigation, assets freezing, evidence collection, seizure of assets, confiscation, property search, inspection, identification and detention.
In terms of the leadership system and working mechanism, the Communist Party of China Central Committee proposed to add Article 125 to the Constitution: “The National Supervisory Commission of the People's Republic of China is the supreme supervisory authority. The National Supervisory Commission shall lead the work of the local supervisory commissions at all levels,” and add Article 126: “National Supervisory Commission shall answer to the National People's Congress and its Standing Committee. Local supervisory commissions at various levels shall be responsible to the state power organs that created them and to the supervisory commissions at the higher levels.”
These two articles should be interpreted in a unified and consistent manner. On the one hand, in order to ensure the CPC’s centralized and unified leadership over anti-corruption work, the CPC discipline inspection organs work in the same office with the supervisory commissions and are responsible for dual-function of discipline inspection and supervision. In their leadership role, the supervisory commissions follow the discipline inspection commissions’ dual-leadership system.
When exercising their powers, supervisory commissions shall be approved by the Party committees at the same levels on important matters; the National Supervisory Commission shall lead the work of local supervisory commissions; and the supervisory commissions at higher levels shall lead the work of the supervisory commissions at lower levels. Local supervisory commissions at various levels will be responsible to the supervisory commissions at the next level up.
On the other hand, the National Supervisory Commission is elected by the NPC, answers to the NPC and its Standing Committee, and thus supervised by the NPC and its Standing Committee. In the pilot projects of deepening the reform of China’s supervisory system, pilot regions have created good approaches and ways that facilitate the people’s congresses and their standing committees to oversee the supervisory commissions.
This is an edited excerpt of an article under the byline of Zhong Jiyan