Charting the Course
China reviews the year gone by and sets new goals accordingly
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UPDATED: March 23, 2015 NO. 13 MARCH 26, 2015
Charting the Course
China reviews the year gone by and sets new goals accordingly
By Yin Pumin

On the government work report

On March 15, the Government Work Report, delivered by Premier Li Keqiang on March 3, was passed with 2,852 approval and 18 opposition votes.

Xie Heping, President of Sichuan University, said the report—different in structure and expressions from previous years—was fresh and inspiring.

Lei Jun, Co-founder and CEO of Xiaomi Corp., now the world's third-largest smartphone maker, gave it a thumbs-up for encouraging technological innovation and popular entrepreneurship.

"Though only a small part of the report is related to the Internet, it was insightful," he said.

The premier said that "whatever fiscal difficulties we may face, our policies to support agriculture must be strengthened, and funding must be increased."

As an NPC deputy from rural China, Guo Jianren was encouraged by this promise.

"I'm expecting to receive more benefits that will help improve farmers' living conditions," Guo said.

Chen Lifen, NPC deputy with the Jiangsu Sunshine Group, noted the importance attached to traditional industry and its determination to transform it.

"As an enterprise representative from traditional industry, I have seen hope from the report. And it encourages me to continue our management and seek development," Chen said.

Lu Qingguo, NPC deputy and Chairman of Chenguang Biological Technology Corp., gave high marks to the statement that "powers should not be used without good reason."

"This is exactly what companies want most," Lu said.

On judicial reports

The annual work reports of the SPC and the SPP won record support from legislators during the voting session on March 15. Experts said it shows that the efforts made by the SPC and the SPP on judicial transparency and reform to enhance judicial credibility have gained public approval.

A record 2,529 NPC deputies voted for the 2014 work report of the SPP, while the SPC got 2,619 votes. It is the highest approval rate for the SPP's work report since 1990.

The SPP and SPC received 284 and 213 dissenting votes, respectively this year, 27.2 percent and 43.7 percent lower than last year. It shows the lawmakers' recognition of the deepened legal reform carried out by the judicial authorities last year.

"It is not surprising to see such wide approval from legislators. The SPP and the SPC have adopted many measures to boost judicial transparency. For example, judicial and prosecution information are now available to the public online, which allows the public to better understand judicial procedures through various channels," said Wang Jingbo, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law.

The determination and efforts in correcting wrongful convictions also won public favor, said Wang.

In his report, Chief Justice Zhou Qiang expressed self-reproach for wrongful convictions during his tenure.

"We are ashamed of letting wrongful convictions happen. Courts of all levels should learn a serious lesson from these cases," said Zhou.

The SPC will improve the mechanism to effectively prevent and correct wrongful convictions, he said.

In 2014, courts nationwide reheard 1,317 cases and corrected a number of wrongful ones, according to Zhou's report.

Procurator General Cao Jianming also stressed in his report that preventing wrongful convictions is something that prosecutors must always hold as one of their foremost duties.

The SPP will perfect the protocol for prosecutors to supervise police investigation and detention of suspects and expand the channels for suspects in custody and inmates to appeal, Cao said when delivering the report to the national legislators on March 12.

The SPP is also researching on a system, in which appeals from suspects in custody and inmates can be handled by prosecutors of a different jurisdiction.

Procuratorates will impose stricter scrutiny on detention centers and prisons while working harder to stop the police from holding suspects for too long.

Law enforcement officers whose actions lead to wrongful conviction and the death of suspects, such as extorting a confession through torture, will face serious prosecution, Cao warned.

Prosecutors themselves will strictly follow the protocol of collecting, examining and using the evidence.

They are asked to pay special attention to murder cases and others that are mainly established on confession and witness statement.

Prosecutors should work to stop any case "tainted" by a lack of evidence or unlawful procedure from going to the court, Cao said.

He also urged prosecutors to protect lawyers' legal rights and listen to their opinions.

The SPP will blacklist and punish prosecutors who abuse their powers and promptly correct their wrongdoings, Cao stressed.

Copyedited by Kieran Pringle

Comments to yinpumin@bjreview.com

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