On October 20-23, the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee was held in Beijing with the overlying theme of advancing the rule of law. Generally, each of the CPC Central Committee's seven plenary sessions held during its five-year term focuses on a different topic, with the fourth reserved to discuss the economy or Party building. This month's plenary session was the first time in history that the rule of law was highlighted as the central issue of discussion.
The People's Republic of China (PRC) has weathered rough sailing in regards to national legal construction over the past 65 years since its founding in 1949. The first Constitution of the PRC was enacted at the First Session of the First National People's Congress (NPC) in 1954. In 1978, the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee called for an improved socialist legal system and established the principles that there must be laws to go by, laws must be observed and strictly enforced, and lawbreakers must be prosecuted.
Later, during the 15th CPC National Congress in 1997, the rule of law was made a basic strategy, which was written into the Constitution of the country just two years later. The16th and 17th CPC national congresses, respectively held in 2002 and 2007, both reaffirmed the objective of building a socialist country under the rule of law. The 18th CPC National Congress in late 2012 further emphasized that the rule of law is a fundamental principle by which the Party leads the people.
More recently, at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee last November, the idea of "building a China under the law" was put forth. And this October's plenary session drew too on the theme of advancing the rule of law, opening a new chapter in the modernization of China's state governance.
After the 18th CPC National Congress, China launched a sweeping anti-graft campaign. But in the long run, it must increasingly rely on the rule of law as the silver bullet. The rule of law is the precondition for effectively preventing corruption and completely eradicating illegal actions like seeking private gain through power or privileging power above law.
The latest plenary session approved the CPC Central Committee's Decision on Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Advancing Rule of Law, which will greatly promote the country's passage of legislation, its strict enforcement of laws and the progress of judicial justice. This will also facilitate the modernization of the nation's governance system and capability.