Liu Jianchao, an NPC deputy and Director of the Supervisory Commission of Zhejiang Province, speaks to reporters in Beijing on March 13 (ZENG WENHUI)
Liu Jianchao, a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), head of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Zhejiang Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection and Director of the Supervisory Commission of Zhejiang Province, attracted considerable media attention during a plenary meeting of the Zhejiang delegation to discuss the draft Supervision Law on March 13 during the First Session of the 13th NPC.
Surrounded by journalists after the meeting, Liu, former spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the draft covers almost all the reform practices adopted by Beijing and Zhejiang and Shanxi provinces in the pilot reform of the supervisory system implemented by the country over the past one and a half years, and strengthens the important knowledge and experience obtained during the process.
"The people oppose corruption most. Establishing supervisory commissions to perform duties in accordance with the Supervision Law will be the most effective way of fighting corruption," said Liu.
In November 2016, the General Office of the CPC Central Committee issued a document, arranging the establishment of supervisory commissions at various levels in Beijing, Shanxi and Zhejiang. Take Zhejiang for instance, according to Liu, under the leadership of Party committees at every level, supervisory commissions in the province act as special anti-graft bodies, performing unified decision-making and command responsibilities. This solves the problem of overlapping duties among the Party's discipline inspection commissions, the administrative supervision departments and the procuratorates in the fight against corruption and the investigation of duty-related crimes.
Zhejiang transferred 1,889 posts to supervisory commissions from related anti-corruption, anti-misconduct, corruption prevention and duty-related crime prevention departments. Some 1,645 officials have already been transferred to supervisory commissions, expanding the discipline enforcement force on the frontlines and efficiently utilizing the resources available for fighting corruption. "This has effectively solved the problem of anti-graft duties being performed separately, where the system didn't run smoothly and powers were dispersed," Liu said.
In the amendment to the Constitution recently adopted by the NPC, a section on supervisory commissions is included. Article 123 reads, "Supervisory commissions at all levels of the People's Republic of China are the country's supervisory organs." This confirms the legal status of supervisory commissions as state organs. New supervisory commissions will share staff and offices with the Party's discipline inspection agencies.
Article 127 of the amended Constitution states, "Supervisory commissions will independently exercise their power of supervision and will not be subject to interference by any administrative organ, public organization or individual."
"Reform of the supervisory system is a historic response to the deepening of political system reform," Zeng Wenming, an NPC deputy and Mayor of Ganzhou, east China's Jiangxi Province, told Beijing Review. He said the supervisory system reform will be of great and far-reaching significance for strengthening the Party's unified leadership on anti-graft work; establishing a centralized, unified, authoritative and highly efficient supervisory system; as well as promoting modernization of the country's governance system and governing capacity.
In Zeng's view, the establishment of supervisory commissions prevents a situation where the government supervises itself. "In the past, the torch of supervision was partially in the hands of government, but now it will be shifted to supervisory commissions, changing the internal supervision of those in the public sector to external supervision. Thus the supervision will be more independent and rigorous." Zeng said,
Xu Rui, an NPC deputy from Jiangxi and Party Secretary of the CPC Ruijin Committee, was a ballot examiner while the NPC deputies voted for the draft amendment to the Constitution. He told Beijing Review that the fact that the supervisory commission section is included in the Constitution indicates that anti-graft work is advancing from Party discipline inspection and supervision to the state level, and supervision will cover everyone in the public sector.
In November 2017, the Standing Committee of the 12th NPC decided to spread the pilot reform of the supervisory system to the entire country. Xu said that as a county-level city, Ruijin must keep in line with the national reform. The city has already completed the work of transferring staff to the local supervisory commission.
Law on supervision
President Xi Jinping once said that the fundamental way of improving the Party's capability for self-purification is to rely on the Party's self-supervision as well as public supervision. Self-supervision is a worldwide challenge in the field of national governance, but the CPC is determined to be successful and achieve "peerless capability" to attain a clean government.
Zeng said the Supervision Law to be approved at this year's NPC annual session will be part of this "peerless capability," and when the law is promulgated, China's supervision work will definitely broaden. "The Supervision Law is a national law on anti-corruption, widening the persons subject to supervision, gathering the scattered supervisory forces and making the supervisory institutions more authoritative," said Zeng.
According to the draft Supervision Law, everyone in the public sector is under supervision, including civil servants; quasi-civil servants; persons engaged in public affairs in organizations with public management authorization; management team members in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and public educational institutions; academic researchers; health care and sports professionals; management team members in community-level self-governance organizations; and others performing public duties in accordance with the law.
Liu said based on carrying out the reform requirements put forth by the CPC Central Committee, Zhejiang has seen government supervision go from a narrow view to a broader one by covering those in the public sector that had not been covered by intra-party supervision or party discipline. Before the reform, 383,000 people in Zhejiang were covered by administrative supervision, but since the reform was implemented, 701,000 people are now covered by national supervision, up by 83 percent.
Jia Yu, an NPC deputy and Chief Procurator of Zhejiang Provincial People's Procuratorate, has participated in the reform of the supervisory system in the province. He said formulating a Supervision Law that incorporates all practices proved to be effective in the past will ensure that the reform of the supervisory system and supervision operates in a legal framework. According to Jia, since Zhejiang was selected as a province for the pilot reform program, procuratorates across the province have been supporting and cooperating with the effort. All institutions, functions and staff members of the province's investigative departments in charge of duty-related crimes and corruption prevention have been transferred to supervisory commissions as planned. In the province, 1,645 staff members from procuratorates have been transferred to supervisory commissions, accounting for 15.4 percent of total staff members in the procuratorates. "They are the backbone in procuratorates and will play an important role in supervisory commissions at different levels in the province," said Jia.
Ke Jianhua, an NPC deputy and Party Secretary of the CPC Guigan Community Committee of Lucheng District in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, said that as a community-level deputy, she is in favor of incorporating management team members from community-level organizations into the supervisory commissions as prescribed in the draft Supervision Law. "Classifying us 'non-officials,' as 'officials' in the eyes of ordinary people, subject to supervision shows that the country attaches great importance to and is responsible for community-level organizations, and this will, in effect, help supervise community-level governance," Ke said. She added that this will deter all those performing public duties from illegal activity and will help protect community-level management teams.
"We must meet the demand of the times and accept supervision on our own initiative, especially for those affairs concerning public interests. We must think more carefully, consult more and collect more opinions from the public in order to be open, transparent, democratic and conform to the law when carrying out work," Ke said.
More on the way
"Once the Supervision Law is passed, we need to revise many other related laws so that they are consistent with the amended Constitution and the Supervision Law," Liu said.
Fang Lingmin, an NPC deputy and Director of the Supervisory Commission of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, agrees with Liu. According to the amendment to the Constitution, the supervisory organs will coordinate with judicial organs, procuratorial organs and law enforcement departments in the handling of duty-related offenses. Fang said that as the reform of the supervisory system deepens and the Supervision Law is promulgated, more laws will have to be revised to keep in line with the supervisory system reform and the Supervision Law, requiring that related departments better cooperate with each other.
"After the Supervision Law has taken effect, the Criminal Procedure Law, the Law on the Organization of the People's Procuratorates, the Public Procurators Law and the State Compensation Law must be revised. We also need to establish and improve some other related systems and institutions," Fang said.
Before being appointed director of the Supervisory Commission of Zhejiang, Liu was director of the International Cooperation Bureau of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. He told Beijing Review that China's supervisory system reform reviewed all excellent cultural traditions and governance measures in the country's history. It also evaluated the experiences of anti-corruption practices and incorporated them into a law.
Fighting corruption with an open mind, China is ready to exchange ideas and cooperate with other countries to combat corruption, which will also help the country run the supervisory system better, he said.
"In the future, we will also strengthen anti-graft cooperation with other countries, including the exchange of ideas and collaboration in measures and specific cases. If other countries need help from China in fighting corruption, China is ready to lend a hand," Liu said.
Copyedited by Rebeca Toledo
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