China's top court and procuratorate on March 12 pledged to help maintain social stability and boost economic growth, ahead of a key Communist Party of China (CPC) congress to be convened in the second half of this year.
"[We will] resolutely protect the nation's political security, in particular the security of the state power and the political system," Chief Justice Zhou Qiang said.
Presenting a work report of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) at a plenary meeting of the National People's Congress annual session, Zhou said Chinese courts will help create a "safe and stable" social environment as well as a fair and just legal environment.
CPC and state leaders Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli attended the plenary meeting.
Zhou promised to keep a firm hand on crimes undermining national security and on violent and terrorist crimes in accordance with the law.
Courts will strike hard on severe criminal offenses such as murder and robbery, and hand out due sentences for those involved in telecom and Internet fraud, in order to maintain social stability, the chief justice said.
Procurator-General Cao Jianming, meanwhile, pledged to severely punish infiltrating, subversive and sabotage activities by hostile forces, violent and terrorist crimes, ethnic separatist activities and religious extremist activities, to "safeguard security, protect stability and promote harmony."
Crimes involving Mafia-like gangs, guns, explosives, drug making and trafficking, women and children trafficking, as well as crimes undermining national defense and military interests will also face harsh penalties, Cao said in a report on the work of the Supreme People's Procuratorate.
Last year, Chinese courts convicted a number of people on charges of subverting state power, including Zhou Shifeng, a lawyer who formerly managed the Fengrui Law Firm in Beijing, and Hu Shigen, an illegal church leader. Zhou was sentenced to seven years in prison, and Hu seven years and a half, by a court in Tianjin Municipality.
No weakening in graft fight
Both Zhou Qiang and Cao Jianming promised that the current anti-corruption momentum will not lose steam, and vowed to step up efforts in the administration of justice in major duty crime cases.
China is in the middle of a sweeping campaign against corruption which targets both high-ranking "tigers" and lowly "flies." Last year, the central authorities announced that the campaign had "gained crushing momentum."
According to Zhou, China's court system concluded 45,000 graft cases in 2016, implicating 63,000 people. The defendants included 35 former officials at the provincial and ministerial level or above, and 240 at the prefectural level, he said.
In the meantime, procurators investigated 47,650 people for their suspected involvement in duty-related crimes, according to Cao.
Prosecution proceedings were launched against 48 former officials at the provincial and ministerial level or above, including Ling Jihua and Su Rong, both former vice chairmen of the country's top political advisory body, and Bai Enpei, a former senior lawmaker with the NPC, Cao said.
Procurators also investigated 17,410 lower level officials suspected of corruption in land expropriation and demolition, social security, management of agriculture-related funds and other issues concerning the people's well-being, he said.
He went on to highlight the progress in capturing fugitives abroad and recovering their ill-gotten assets.
Since China launched a campaign to hunt down fugitives implicated in duty-related crimes in October 2014, 164 suspects, including 27 listed in an Interpol red notice, have been repatriated or persuaded to return to China from 37 countries and regions, he said.
Boosting economic growth
The chief justice and procurator-general noted the importance China's judiciary puts in promoting social and economic development.
This year, the SPC will perfect the country's bankruptcy trial system to help cut overcapacity and facilitate the supply-side structural reform, one of the top priorities of economic reform.
In 2017, China's courts will step up trials of foreign-related business and maritime cases to serve the Belt and Road Initiative and the strategy of building China into a major maritime power.
China has extended its maritime jurisdiction to cover all seas under its jurisdiction in an effort to safeguard the country's maritime rights and interests.
Protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) will also be strengthened as part of the efforts to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship.
For his part, Cao said Chinese prosecutors will strike hard on crimes that involve disturbing market order, infringement of IPR and encroachment of special government funds.
They will focus on crimes undermining food and drug safety and environmental protection, he added.
Both judicial organs will target cases related to poverty alleviation, a fundamental task in building a moderately prosperous society by 2020 as set by the Chinese Government.
"In the face of new situation and new tasks, we will follow the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, and work harder ... to embrace the Party's 19th National Congress," Zhou said.
The CPC will hold its 19th National Congress to elect a new leadership for the next five years.
(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2017)