CAST A BALLOT: Residents in Shanghai's Chengxing Neighborhood Community count votes in an election of the residents committee, a self-governance institution, on July 29, 2006. The Organic Law of the Urban Residents Committees, enacted in 1989, enables urban residents to administer their own affairs (XINHUA)
A socialist system of law with Chinese characteristics has been established on schedule in China, said top legislator Wu Bangguo on March 10. When delivering a work report of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) at a plenary meeting of the top legislature's annual session, Wu, Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, said, "We now have a complete set of laws covering all aspects of social relations, with basic and major laws of each type already in place, together with comprehensive corresponding administrative regulations and local statutes."
By the end of 2010, China had enacted 236 laws, more than 690 administrative regulations and more than 8,600 local statutes, and reviewed all current laws, administrative regulations and local statutes.
"The formation of a socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics has solved the problem by having laws for all government departments and people to guide their behavior," said Li Lin, Director of the Institute of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "But the country still faces the extremely arduous task in building a more developed legal system to meet the requirement of society at a medium level of development."
China's legislative goal of forming a socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics by 2010 was set at the 15th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1997.
"There are laws to cover every area of economic, political, cultural, social and ecological development in the country," Wu said.
He said the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics is based on the situation and realities in China, complies with the requirements for reform, opening up and socialist modernization, and represents the will of the Party and the people.
The system is rooted in the Constitution and has several types of laws, including laws related to the Constitution, civil laws and commercial laws, as its backbone, he said.
The system has different levels of legal force, reflected in laws, administrative regulations and local statutes, he said.
Law experts hailed the establishment of the system as a historical task accomplished by the country.
China had reached a superior level in its legislative efforts over the past six decades, said Huang Jianchu, Director of the Economic Law Department under the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee.
"Especially in the last three decades, China sped up its legislative efforts and updated its system of laws in line with social and economic changes, people's rising demands for political rights and evolving themes of the times," he said.
Zhou Guangquan, a professor with the Law School of Tsinghua University, said China's system of laws isn't copied from other countries.
He said China has enacted some of its laws based on the need of its political, economic and social development, which were rarely found elsewhere in the world.
For example, the NPC has enacted the Law on Rural Land Contracts, which grants farmers long-term and guaranteed land-use rights.
"We have made a point of learning from other countries, but we should never slavishly imitate their laws," Huang said.
China had learned the best practices from other countries when forming some laws, such as the Patent Law, he said.
"While drafting the Patent Law, we learned from foreign countries to allow patent holders to have the right to sue in case of patent infringement. Also, given the lengthy and costly nature of these lawsuits, we provide for administrative protection," said Huang.
"During the 30 years of establishing the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics, we have, based on our national conditions, learned from history and other countries and also made innovations so that our system integrates the characteristics of China, the era and the world," said Xu Xianming, a law expert and President of Shandong University.
"The most urgent task following the formation of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics is how to ensure the implementation of the Constitution and laws and rule of law throughout society," said Li.
Yu An, a professor at the School of Public Policy and Management of Tsinghua University, said building China's system of laws was a massive and complex undertaking, but improving that system remained an equally challenging task.
The system of laws should remain up to date, dynamic, open and forward developing instead of being static, contained or fixed, Xu said.
"With the completion of the socialist system of law with Chinese characteristics, we should also bear in mind that the cause of socialism is progressing and the reform and opening up keeps advancing, and this has placed new demands on the system," said Xu.
In his work report, top legislator Wu pledged more efforts to amend and improve laws and enact regulations for their enforcement, in addition to making new laws.
"Our legislative tasks are still painstaking and arduous, and legislative work needs to get stronger, not weaker," Wu said.
The NPC Standing Committee's legislative agenda in 2011 was to promptly amend laws incompatible with economic and social development, and to enact laws vital to promoting economic development and social harmony, he said.
Laws being amended this year include the Budget Law, Law Concerning the Prevention and Control of Occupational Diseases, Criminal Procedure Law, Civil Procedure Law, Organic Law of Local Governments and Military Service Law.