On behalf of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), I now present this report on its work for your deliberation and approval.
Major Work of the Past Year
In 2011, China faced a complex and volatile situation abroad, and arduous and difficult tasks of reform, development, and stability at home. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), with Comrade Hu Jintao as General Secretary, united with and led the people of all China's ethnic groups in working with one heart and one mind, advancing determinedly, and comprehensively promoting socialist economic development, political, cultural and social progress, and ecological awareness. New achievements were made in all of our work, and the Twelfth Five-Year Plan period got off to a good start.
Over the past year, the NPC Standing Committee took Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents as its guide; thoroughly applied the Scientific Outlook on Development; steadfastly integrated the leadership of the Party, the position of the people as masters of the country, and the rule of law; and performed its functions and powers and carried out its work in accordance with the guiding principles of the Fourth Session of the Eleventh NPC and based on the overall work of the Party and the country. Over the past year, the Standing Committee deliberated 24 bills, legal interpretations and draft decisions on legal issues, passed 14 of them, and has presented 4 of them to this session for your deliberation and approval. It listened to and deliberated 14 work reports by the State Council, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate; investigated implementation of 4 laws; ratified 4 treaties and accords China concluded with foreign countries and its accession to one international convention; made decisions on and approved the appointment or removal of a number of employees in state bodies; and made an important contribution to upholding and improving the system of people's congresses and carrying out reform, opening up, and socialist modernization.
I. Continuing to strengthen legislative work
The Standing Committee continued to strengthen and improve its legislative work. We placed greater emphasis on revising and improving existing laws and making legislative work more scientific and democratic, strove to raise the quality of legislation, and constantly improved the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics.
1. We have submitted the draft revision of the Criminal Procedure Law to this session for your deliberation and approval.
Revising the Criminal Procedure Law has been a focus of the legislative work of the NPC and its Standing Committee, and is of great interest to all sectors of society. A total of 2,485 deputies to the current NPC have submitted bills for revising the Criminal Procedure Law. We conscientiously sorted through the bills, fully investigated and studied them, and solicited a wide range of opinions on them, and on that basis, we prepared a draft amendment that considerably supplements and improves the law's system of evidence, system of defense, coercive measures, procedures for trials, and procedures for executing judgments. A preliminary evaluation of the draft was made at the Standing Committee meeting last August, after which the entire draft was released to the public for their opinions. The draft was again evaluated at the Standing Committee meeting last December, and it was decided to submit the draft to this session for your deliberation and approval. There is widespread agreement among the members of the Standing Committee that the draft follows the central leadership's guidelines on deepening the reform of the judicial system, draws upon years of practical judicial experiences, incorporates relevant views of deputies, properly balances punishing crime and protecting human rights, accords with China's national conditions, and is basically complete.
In order to facilitate effective deliberation of the draft amendment to the Criminal Procedure Law, we distributed copies of it to you for your comments and suggestions before this session opened. The Standing Committee gave you an explanation of the draft earlier this session. All delegations carefully examined it, and we believe that through your hard work, we can produce a good revised version of the law.
2. We enacted amendments to a number of important laws.
The Standing Committee adopted the Decision on Amending the Law on Personal Income Tax, which sets forth two major changes to the law. One is to increase the salary threshold for personal income tax from 2,000 yuan to 3,500 yuan per month, and the other is to change the progressive tax rate structure on wages and salaries from nine to seven brackets, expand the lower tax brackets, and reduce the first bracket rate from 5% to 3%. The amendments further lower the tax burden on middle- and low-income individuals and appropriately raise the tax burden on high-income individuals. To meet the requirements of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan, we will next accelerate personal income tax reform and develop a sound personal income tax system that is comprehensive yet takes different situations into consideration to give a bigger role to taxation in adjusting income distribution.
The Standing Committee amended the Law Concerning the Prevention and Control of Occupational Diseases to make it more practicable. First, the law makes it clear that employers shall carry out measures to prevent and control occupational diseases in accordance with the law, ensures necessary funding, and further strengthens the responsibilities of oversight authorities. Second, the law improves the mechanisms for diagnosing and evaluating occupational diseases, streamlines the procedures for arbitrating labor disputes concerning them, and focuses on solving difficulties in diagnosing them. Third, the law stipulates that employers shall ensure that their employees who suffer from occupational diseases enjoy government-set benefits in accordance with the law. Persons suffering from occupational diseases whose employers no longer exist or whose labor histories cannot be confirmed may apply to their local people's governments for assistance with their medical care and everyday life.
The Law on Administrative Enforcement concerns the exercise of administrative power and the protection of citizens' legitimate rights and interests. It involves complicated issues, and therefore poses legislative difficulties. On the basis of repeated research, debate, communication, and consultation, the Standing Committee passed the Law on Administrative Enforcement after deliberating it on five occasions. Throughout the process of legislation, we emphasized properly balancing powers and rights as well as powers and responsibilities. We ensured that the exercise of administrative enforcement is standardized, constrained, and monitored in order to avoid and prevent abuses of power and protect the legitimate rights and interests of citizens, legal persons and other organizations, and also endowed administrative bodies with necessary powers of enforcement to ensure that they carry out their functions and duties in accordance with the law and to make their administration more efficient.
The power of the NPC and its Standing Committee to interpret the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) is an important power given to them by the Constitution and the two basic laws.
Last August, the Standing Committee examined and approved the interpretations of Article 13, paragraph 1, and Article 19 of the Basic Law of the HKSAR. This was the first time the Court of Final Appeals of the HKSAR, in the course of adjudicating a case, requested the Standing Committee to render an interpretation concerning articles of the Basic Law pertaining to matters administered by the Central People's Government and relations between the central government and the special administrative region. The Standing Committee's interpretation provided the court with a legal basis for settling the case by making it clear that state immunity falls under the category of diplomatic affairs, that the power to decide the rules and policies concerning state immunity belongs to the central government, and that the HKSAR must abide by unified state rules and policies on state immunity.
Last December, the Standing Committee examined and approved interpretations of Annex I, Article 7, and Annex II, Article 3, of the Basic Law of the MSAR, thereby clarifying the procedures for revising the methods for selecting the Chief Executive of the MSAR and forming its legislative council. This was the first time the Standing Committee exercised its power to interpret the Basic Law of the MSAR.
This February, on the basis of careful deliberation of a report of the Chief Executive of the MSAR, the Standing Committee adopted a decision on the method for forming the Legislative Council of the MSAR in 2013 and selecting its Chief Executive in 2014.
The Standing Committee's interpretations of and decision concerning the above two basic laws fully embody the principle of "one country, two systems." They safeguard the power of the central government stipulated in the basic laws and guarantee a high degree of autonomy for the HKSAR and MSAR, and they also have great significance for promoting comprehensive and correct implementation of the basic laws and guaranteeing the long-term prosperity and stability of the two regions.
The Standing Committee also amended the Military Service Law, the Law on Citizen Identity Cards and the Law on Promoting Cleaner Production; adopted a decision on issues pertaining to intensifying anti-terrorism work; and deliberated the draft amendments to the Civil Procedure Law and the Budget Law, and the drafts of the Law on Mental Health, the Law on Entry and Exit Administration, the Law on Insurance for Military Personnel, and the Law on Asset Evaluation.
3. We made legislation more scientific and democratic.
We focused on strengthening the following work based on the experience gained from our past practices.
First, we expanded the orderly participation of citizens in legislation and actively responded to social concerns. The amendment to the Law on Personal Income Tax affects the vital interests of the people. In the period of just over a month after the Standing Committee released the draft amendment to the public for their opinions, it received over 230,000 comments. At the same time, we solicited written opinions from local and central government departments, and from enterprises, universities, and research institutes; held forums and discussion meetings to directly solicit suggestions from experts, scholars, and public representatives. We conscientiously and responsibly made major new revisions to the draft amendment by giving full consideration to opinions on all sides, particularly feedback from the public, carrying out thorough deliberation, and having repeated consultations with the State Council. These revisions raised the salary threshold for personal income tax and reduced the tax rate for the lowest tax bracket appropriately.
Second, we worked harder to develop a scientific, harmonious, and unified legal system. After the Social Insurance Law and Amendment VIII to the Criminal Law were passed, the Standing Committee promptly revised some articles of the Law on the Coal Industry, the Construction Law, and the Road Traffic Safety Law to resolve the issue that parts of these laws did not conform or dovetail with each other. After the Law on Administrative Enforcement was promulgated, we required relevant authorities to promptly put in order administrative enforcement clauses in existing laws, regulations, and other normative documents. The State Council and local governments attached great importance to and made arrangements for this work and basically completed it by the end of last year.
Third, we launched a pilot project for evaluating laws after they are passed. We selected the Law on Scientific and Technological Progress and the Law on Promoting Agricultural Mechanization for evaluation. We objectively evaluated how scientific and practicable laws were as well as how effectively they were implemented, and focused on the ownership and use of intellectual property rights in scientific and technological projects, incentives for corporate investment in R&D, trans-regional mechanized farming services, subsidies for purchasing agricultural machinery, and fuel subsidies for agricultural machinery. The Standing Committee deliberated the relevant reports, and called for improving the mechanism for evaluating laws after they are passed on the basis of a review of the experiences gained from the pilot project and for carrying out such evaluations on a regular basis and in a standardized way.
Now that our socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics has been established, it has become more urgent and important to strengthen publicity and education regarding the legal system and ensure effective law enforcement. The report approved and sent out by the CPC Central Committee last year on forming a socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics called for further strengthening enforcement of laws and education in the law, and vigorously promoting a socialist spirit of the rule of law. We conscientiously implemented the guiding principles of the Central Committee and adopted a resolution on further strengthening publicity of and education regarding the legal system in conjunction with hearing and deliberating the work report on the fifth five-year plan for spreading general knowledge of the law among the people. The resolution emphasized that we need to comprehensively implement the rule of law as the basic strategy and be fully aware that publicity of and education in the law are important, long-term and urgent, and that we should use the formation of a socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics to make publicity and education work more targeted and effective; enhance the ability of government employees, especially leading cadres at all levels, to perform their duties in accordance with the law; and accelerate the creation of a social atmosphere in which people purposefully study, respect, abide by, and apply the law. We widely publicized the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics in various ways, such as issuing a white paper and producing a documentary entitled "Forging the Rule of Law," which played a positive role in enhancing the awareness of laws and the rule of law across society and promoting effective law enforcement.
II. Making substantial progress in oversight work
The Standing Committee continued to intensify and improve its oversight work with the focus on giving impetus to the smooth implementation of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan, concentrated oversight more on matters concerning the overall interests of the country and the people's wellbeing, and achieved tangible results.
1. We promoted transformation of the pattern of economic development.
The Standing Committee pays great attention to accelerating the transformation of the pattern of economic development, and every year it chooses different areas for hearing and deliberating work reports, inspecting law enforcement, and conducting investigations and studies on special topics. Last year, the Standing Committee heard and deliberated reports on accelerating transformation of the pattern of economic development, protecting the environment and developing tourism, and conducted investigations and studies on special topics including making national income distribution more reasonable and promoting economic and social development in ethnic minority areas. Members of the Standing Committee stated that presently good momentum is being maintained in our economic and social development and our national economy continues to develop in the direction intended by the exercise of macro-controls. At the same time, they clearly realized that the problem of our development still being unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable is serious, and there are still many defects in systems and mechanisms that hinder scientific development. They emphasized that in the face of a complex and volatile international political and economic environment, and new situations and changes in our domestic economic performance, we need to transform challenges into opportunities and pressure into impetus, and ensure that the central leadership's decisions on and arrangements for transforming the pattern of economic development and carrying out restructuring are applied in the specific measures we take and in our practical work. At present, we need to focus on the following tasks:
First, we will boost domestic demand, especially consumer demand, with the focus on ensuring and improving the people's wellbeing, accelerating the development of the service sector and increasing the proportion of the middle-income population so that domestic demand plays a bigger role in driving economic growth.
Second, we will accelerate the pace of innovation and scientific and technological progress, increase investment in science and technology, guide and support the concentration of innovative factors in enterprises, foster and develop strategic emerging industries, transform and upgrade traditional industries, improve and upgrade the industrial structure, and make economic growth more reliant on innovation.
Third, we will unwaveringly conserve energy and reduce emissions; strengthen the force of the law and policy guidance in energy conservation and emissions reduction; make sure key areas conserve energy, reduce emissions, and protect the ecological environment more effectively; resolutely close down backward production facilities; strictly control the haphazard expansion of energy-intensive and highly polluting industries; promote clean production; develop green industries and the circular economy; improve mechanisms to compensate for ecological damage; and make economic growth more sustainable.
In order to improve the basic rural management system, safeguard farmers' legitimate rights and interests, and develop agriculture and rural areas more vigorously, the Standing Committee inspected enforcement of the Law on Rural Land Contracts and the Law on Mediation and Arbitration of Rural Land Contract Management Disputes, and listened to and deliberated the report on the reform of tenure in collective forests. Members of the Standing Committee stated that we must implement the strictest possible system for protecting arable land; effectively guarantee farmers' contracted land-use rights; maintain stable land contract relationships over the long term; promptly and effectively resolve disputes related to the contracted use of rural land; strengthen supervision of and services for the transfer of rural contracted land-use rights; promote the development of specialized, standardized, and intensive agriculture on a larger scale; and constantly improve agricultural modernization. They further emphasized the need to improve supporting measures for the reform of tenure in collective forests; fully implement all policies for strengthening forestry and benefiting forest workers; vigorously launch major forestry projects; energetically develop the forestry industry and the forest-based economy; and follow a path of modern forestry development that expands forestry resources, increases rural incomes, and is good for the ecological environment.
2. We worked to ensure and improve the people's wellbeing.
We listened to and deliberated reports on building and managing low-income urban housing and on implementing the National Medium- and Long-Term Plan for Education Reform and Development. Members of the Standing Committee stated that we need to fully carry out decisions and arrangements of the central leadership; stay rooted in China's specific conditions; reasonably determine the extent, forms, and standards of low-income housing; fully consider the ability of governments at all levels to bear the costs; strictly differentiate low-income housing from housing with better conditions; and establish a sound mechanism to oversee the distribution and management of low-income housing on the basis of a full investigation of current housing conditions in China, in order to ensure that the low-income housing projects genuinely benefit low-income people with housing difficulties. Members of the Standing Committee also stressed the need to ensure that government spending on education accounts for 4% of China's GDP in 2012, and with the focus on deepening reform of the education system, provide a well-rounded education to all students; cultivate students' creativity; promote educational equality; direct more public education resources toward rural, poor, and ethnic minority areas; and guarantee equal access to compulsory education for the children of rural migrant workers in cities.
We carried out the second round of investigations on the enforcement of the Labor Contract Law and the Food Safety Law, which promoted effective implementation of these laws. Results of investigations showed that the number of labor contracts signed in 2011 increased substantially, with 97% of employees of large enterprises nationwide signing labor contracts. Collective bargaining for wages was carried out in an orderly manner, and 114 million employees were covered in 2011 by collective contracts, an increase of 76.5% over 2007. A national mechanism for comprehensively coordinating efforts to ensure food safety began to take shape, and the government's capacity to monitor and give early warnings on food safety risks was enhanced. Relevant authorities conducted campaigns to stop the illegal use and misuse of food additives and clenobuterol hydrochloride, and they investigated a number of prominent cases and brought the perpetrators to justice. While fully affirming the practice of sending workers overseas, members of the Standing Committee pointed out that there still existed serious problems of abuses of power in implementation. They proposed that we promptly revise and improve relevant laws and regulations, specify the eligibility conditions for sending workers overseas in greater detail, strengthen oversight and supervision of organizations sending and receiving overseas workers, and guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of workers sent abroad such as their remuneration and social security benefits. Standing Committee members stressed that the key to solving serious problems in food safety is to effectively raise food producers' awareness of the law to ensure strict self-discipline and lawful and honest business practices on their part; effectively improve food safety oversight and supervision; and make sure that responsibilities are clear, oversight personnel do their jobs scrupulously, and the law is strictly enforced. The Standing Committee investigated enforcement of the Law Guaranteeing the Rights and Interests of Senior Citizens, and stressed the need to understand and plan our work related to elderly people from a strategic standpoint, actively build a system of services for the elderly, effectively protect their legitimate rights and interests, and follow a path of developing services for them that is suited to China's conditions. The Standing Committee also listened to and deliberated the State Council's report on fire prevention.
3. We intensified oversight of government budgets.
We heard and deliberated reports on the implementation of the country's annual plan and budgets, on the final accounts of the central government, and on auditing work, and we examined and approved the final accounts of the central government in 2010. We conducted investigations and studies on how to prevent local government debt risks and establish a sound mechanism to ensure basic funding for county governments. In light of large and fast-growing local government debt, insufficient standardization of debt financing, and the inability of many regions and industries to repay their debts, members of the Standing Committee stressed the need to promptly clear up the problems of financing corporations of local governments, deal with existing local government debts on the basis of their circumstances and type to defuse local government debt risks step by step. They also stressed the need to strictly enforce laws and regulations such as the Budget Law and the Guarantee Law, prevent and stop local governments from making payment guarantees in violation of regulations, include their debt revenue and expenditures in their budgets, and subject them to review and oversight by the people's congress at the same level. Standing Committee members also emphasized the need to improve the fiscal system for ensuring that the financial resources of central and local governments are in line with their respective powers, further raise the proportion of general transfer payments, and enhance primary-level governments' capacity to provide public services.
4. We strengthened oversight of judicial work.
In view of prominent problems hindering improvement of judicial competence at the primary level, we listened to and deliberated reports of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate on strengthening primary-level courts and procuratorates. Members of the Standing Committee commended the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate for willingly accepting oversight by the NPC and actively improving their work, expressed the hope that courts and procuratorates at all levels would consolidate their existing achievements and further improve the primary-level legal infrastructure, and play a greater role in safeguarding social fairness and justice and maintaining social harmony and stability. The Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate attached great importance to the comments of the Standing Committee and they each held a conference to formulate measures for improvement, and stated that they would put a greater proportion of their energy and resources into primary-level courts and procuratorates, and strive to strengthen and improve the primary-level legal infrastructure.
We conducted special hearings in accordance with the law to strengthen the NPC's oversight of judicial work. We carried out special hearings on selected topics including construction of low-income housing, education reform and the central government's final accounts at group meetings and joint group meetings. Members of the Standing Committee conducted thorough investigations and studies, meticulously prepared in advance, and asked questions that were more insightful and pertinent. Leaders of the relevant State Council departments listened to comments with an open mind and realistically and truthfully answered questions. Major central media carried on-the-spot reports of these hearings, and they received a positive response from the general public. On the basis of experience in recent years, a set of mechanisms has gradually emerged for special hearings and their activities have become standardized, thereby effectively improving the work of those affected by them.
III. Deepening work related to deputies
We took advantage of the opportunity created by implementing the amended Law on Deputies to People's Congresses to further strengthen and improve work related to deputies, support deputies in carrying out their responsibilities and duties in accordance with the law and ensure they do so, and get deputies to fully play their role in participating in the administration of state affairs.
1. We steadfastly respected the principal position of deputies and diligently handled their bills and proposals.
Nine special committees handled 566 bills of deputies referred to them by the Presidium of the Fourth Session of the Eleventh NPC. The Standing Committee has deliberated and passed 6 laws addressed in 15 of the bills; is deliberating 7 bills brought up in 69 of them; and has included 28 legislative items discussed in 84 of them in the legislative plan and agenda. The special committees worked hard to better handle these bills and made good use of them in their legislative work. For example, the Law concerning the Prevention and Control of Occupational Diseases was amended to include deputies' proposals that the responsibilities of employers be clarified, trade unions play a bigger role, and workplace hygiene inspection be strengthened. Deputies made 8,043 suggestions which were referred to 177 organizations for study and handling. Eleven of them were selected as key suggestions on issues of great concern to the public and their handling was brought under the oversight of special committees. As of this moment 77% of the problems brought up by deputies in their suggestions have been solved or plans have been made for solving them. Remarkable progress has been made in handling a number of suggestions in such areas as supporting the development of major grain-producing areas, tightening oversight of food safety, and developing services for the elderly.
2. We unwaveringly maintained an attitude of serving deputies and improved our services for them.
We improved the organization of and services for deputies' investigations and studies on special issues, and inspection tours. More than 1,800 deputies took part in investigations and studies on special issues and over 1,700 participated in inspection tours, and they prepared over 100 investigative reports, which provided important reference materials for the policymaking of both central and local governments. These activities also greatly improved the quality of deputies' bills and proposals. In order to keep deputies informed about state affairs, we promptly provided them with materials and information about the country's economic and social development, compilation and implementation of government budgets, and the Standing Committee's performance of its duties. We held separate meetings for deputies residing in Beijing and for those in Hong Kong and Macao to brief them on state affairs, and distributed printed materials to all deputies. We continued to increase study sessions for deputies on matters relating to their duties and held six training sessions for more than 1,200 of them to study the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics and the Twelfth Five-Year Plan.
3. We maintained close contacts with deputies to the NPC to improve the quality and level of the work of the Standing Committee.
We solicited deputies' comments and suggestions on the work of the Standing Committee in a variety of ways, and took them as an important basis for improving our work and formulating work plans. We further expanded deputies' participation in the Standing Committee's inspections of enforcement of laws and in its research for legislative purposes, and invited them to attend meetings of the Standing Committee and special committees as observers. With their professional expertise and knowledge of local conditions, deputies made valid and sound analyses and pragmatic and pertinent comments, and played an important role in improving the quality of the Standing Committee's deliberations and raising the level of its work.
There is one more year remaining in the term of the Eleventh NPC. During the past four years, all our deputies have maintained a high sense of mission and responsibility, proved worthy of the great trust bestowed on them by the people, worked diligently to perform their functions, and participated in the administration of state affairs in accordance with the law. Our deputies come from every region, ethnic group, and sector of society and work and live among the people, so they have a personal understanding of how the principles and policies of the Party and the country as well as the Constitution and laws are being implemented, have firsthand knowledge of people's lives and wishes, and have a thorough understanding of conditions and problems at the primary level. Deputies make full use of the advantage of their close contacts with the people to fully understand their conditions, reflect their sentiments, and pool their wisdom, and thus make a positive contribution to upholding and improving the system of people's congresses, and doing the work of people's congresses well in the new circumstances.
IV. Actively invigorating foreign relations work
We steadfastly complied with and served China's overall diplomacy; increased friendly contacts with congresses and parliaments of other countries and multilateral parliamentary organizations in a planned, focused manner; and played an important role in promoting the comprehensive development of relations between China and other countries and safeguarding the important period of strategic opportunities for China's development.
We successfully hosted the fifth meeting of the cooperation council consisting of the NPC, the Russian Federation Council, and the State Duma of Russia, at which the participants systematically reviewed the invaluable experience gained from contacts between the legislative bodies and stressed that these contacts should take developing relations between the two countries as their fundamental orientation, promoting pragmatic cooperation as their main content, and developing lasting friendship as their primary task. We continued to strengthen exchanges with the United States Congress, the National Diet of Japan, the French National Assembly, and the European Parliament under a mechanism of regular exchanges, and successfully initiated exchanges based on a similar mechanism with the National Assembly of South Africa. We used these exchanges to conduct frank dialogue, deepen contacts, and increase consensus with them on matters of common concern in light of changes in the international situation and the participating countries' development needs. We vigorously developed friendly contacts with other countries through special committees or friendship groups on various levels, through which we exchanged experience in state governance, legislative oversight, economic development, and improvement of the people's wellbeing. We actively participated in the activities of multilateral parliamentary organizations and safeguarded the legitimate demands and common interests of developing countries.
In the course of our foreign relations work, we convincingly demonstrated China's development achievements with incontrovertible facts and detailed data, thoroughly explained our foreign policy of friendship and partnership with our neighbors, and widely publicized our principle that China will unswervingly adhere to the path of peaceful development and will always be a positive factor and staunch force safeguarding world and regional peace and promoting development for all.
V. Unremittingly improving ourselves
People's congresses are organs of state power and important political institutions. Strengthening self-improvement of the Standing Committee, especially its ideological and political development, is of vital importance for doing all the NPC's work well.
On July 1st last year, General Secretary Hu Jintao delivered an important speech at a meeting celebrating the 90th anniversary of the founding of the CPC, in which he systematically reviewed the Party's brilliant history and invaluable experience over the past 90 years and thoroughly expounded major issues pertaining to upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. This speech has immense and far-reaching significance for comprehensively carrying forward the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics under the new circumstances. The speech focused on expounding the basic meaning and great significance of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, and stressed the need to continue to vigorously expand socialist democratic politics, make greater use of the advantages of our socialist political system, and provide better institutional guarantees for prosperity, development, and lasting political stability of the Party and the country. Members of the Standing Committee and special committees conscientiously studied and deeply understood the guiding principles of the speech in light of the actual work of the NPC, and unanimously agreed that this important speech charted the course for upholding and improving the system of people's congresses and doing the work of the NPC well under the new circumstances. They also agreed that all comrades working at the NPC should consciously bring their thinking and actions in line with the guiding principles of the speech and uphold and improve the system of people's congresses from the strategic perspective of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics.
1. We need to steadfastly take our own path.
To manage China's affairs well, we need to stay grounded in its realities, rely on the strength of the Chinese people, and follow a development path suited to China's conditions. It is primarily because we blazed the socialist path with Chinese characteristics suited to China's conditions on the basis of an in-depth review of lessons and experience at home and abroad that China - a large developing country with a population of over 1.3 billion, 56 ethnic groups, a weak foundation, and late start in development - has been able to maintain long-term political stability and social harmony, safeguard national unity and ethnic solidarity, and sustain development at a speed rarely seen in the world. The socialist system with Chinese characteristics, including the system of people's congresses, is the fundamental institutional guarantee for the development and progress of contemporary China, and we must cherish it even more and adhere to it for a long time to come. To successfully uphold and improve the system of people's congresses, we need to thoroughly understand the intrinsic nature of China's system of people's congresses; confidently uphold our unique characteristics; be fully aware of the essential differences between this system and Western capitalist countries' systems of political power; remain sober-minded and take a firm and clear stand on major issues of principle; and unwaveringly keep to the socialist path of political development with Chinese characteristics.
2. We need to make greater use of the characteristics and advantages of the system of people's congresses.
In China, the system of people's congresses is the fundamental way and highest form in which the people serve as masters of the country. It is also the best way in which the Party can give full play to democracy and implement the mass line in exercising state power, and it has tremendous vitality and huge advantages.
To successfully uphold and improve the system of people's congresses, we must do the following: first, make use of the political advantage of having the CPC as the firm leadership core of the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, ensure that the positions of the Party become the will of the state through legally established procedures, and provide institutional and legal guarantees that the line, policies, and principles of the Party are implemented; second, make use of the institutional advantage that all power of the state belongs to the people, ensure that the people perform their powers of managing state affairs through people's congresses at all levels, mobilize all the people to dedicate themselves to reform, opening up and socialist modernization as masters of the country, and successfully fulfill, safeguard and develop the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people; and third, make use of the institutional advantage of democratic centralism, uphold the role of people's congresses in exercising state power in a unified way, oversee and support governments, people's courts and people's procuratorates in carrying out their duties and powers in accordance with the law, and guarantee that the operations of all state organs are coordinated and efficient and that the state organizes the implementation of all undertakings in a unified and effective way, so as to get organs of state power to better play their important role in the political life of the country.
3. We need to constantly promote the improvement and development of the system of people's congresses.
The reforms we have been undertaking under the leadership of the Party for more than 30 years since reform and opening up began are comprehensive reforms spanning economic, political, cultural and social systems. These reforms have constantly given impetus to the self-improvement and self-development of our socialist system and infused new vigor and vitality into socialism. The development of praxis has no limits, and neither do exploration and innovation. The system of people's congresses will therefore inexorably keep improving and developing through the creative praxes of the Party and the people. To improve and develop this system, we need to have a firm grasp of the correct political orientation; adhere to the socialist path of political development with Chinese characteristics; and organically integrate the leadership of the Party, the position of the people as masters of the country and the rule of law. We need to steadfastly proceed from our country's conditions and realities and work actively yet prudently to achieve solid progress in making innovations in the work of the NPC. We need to further improve the organizational system and operating mechanisms of people's congresses as organs of state power, optimize the composition of deputies in people's congresses and their standing committees, forge closer ties between deputies and the people, improve the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics, strengthen and improve the oversight work of people's congresses, and make sure the system of people's congresses always keeps up with the times as we advance in the great course of building socialism with Chinese characteristics.
The system of people's congresses is our country's fundamental political system, and upholding and improving it is an important aspect of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. It is our bounden duty and a noble mission entrusted to us by the Party and the people. Comrades working at people's congresses should enhance their theoretical competency, maintain a high level of political unity with the Party Central Committee, and take a clear stand in rejecting the influence of all erroneous ideologies and theories. They should constantly become more purposeful and resolute in adhering to and expanding the socialist path with Chinese characteristics, in upholding and enriching the socialist theoretical system with Chinese characteristics, and in upholding and improving the socialist system with Chinese characteristics. And they should be firm believers in and faithful followers of the common ideals of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Over the past year, NPC special committees did a huge amount of effective work focused on the central tasks of the NPC and its Standing Committee in accordance with their mandates given to them by the Constitution and laws, and played an important role in raising the quality and level of the NPC's work. While fulfilling their duties in accordance with the law, local people's congresses actively cooperated with and supported the work of the NPC Standing Committee, and made positive contributions to establishing and improving the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics and promoting the implementation of the central leadership's major decisions and arrangements. By deepening activities to encourage Party members to excel in their work, NPC bodies effectively improved their ideology, organization, work style, and competency, and provided good advice, assistance, and services to the NPC and its Standing Committee in carrying out their duties.
Under the leadership of the Party Central Committee, with Comrade Hu Jintao as General Secretary, the NPC Standing Committee made new progress in all its work. This was attributable to the hard work of NPC deputies, members of the Standing Committee and the special committees, and employees of NPC bodies. It was also attributable to the close cooperation of the State Council, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, and to the strong support of local people's congresses, their standing committees, and people throughout the country. On behalf of the Standing Committee, I would like to express sincere thanks to them all.
Our work over the past year still leaves room for improvement in utilizing the role of deputies, improving the quality of legislation, and making our oversight more effective in order to meet the new requirements for economic and social development and new expectations of the people. We will willingly accept oversight of the people, listen with an open mind to comments and suggestions from deputies, and further enhance and improve our work.
Major Tasks for the Coming Year
The coming year is of special importance to our national development because the Party will hold its Eighteenth National Congress, which will be of great and far-reaching significance. To ensure the success of the Eighteenth Congress, it is crucially important for us to firmly follow the general work principle of making progress while maintaining stability, do all our work for the year well, and consolidate and build on the sound momentum we achieved from the launch of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan. Against this background, the general requirements for the work of the NPC Standing Committee are as follows: To fully implement the guiding principles of the Seventeenth National Party Congress, the third through sixth plenary sessions of the Seventeenth Party Central Committee, and the Central Economic Work Conference; take Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents as our guide; thoroughly apply the Scientific Outlook on Development; firmly take the socialist path of political development with Chinese characteristics; adhere to the organic integration of the Party's leadership, the people's position as masters of the country, and the rule of law; strengthen and improve legislative work; improve the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics; strengthen and improve oversight; give impetus to implementing the major decisions and arrangements of the central leadership; strive to accomplish all the targets set for the Eleventh NPC; and make new contributions to promoting steady and robust economic development and maintaining social harmony and stability. We will build on past achievements, work tirelessly to fulfill our mission, and do all our work for this year to a higher standard.
I. Taking new steps to improve the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics
In accordance with the general requirement of improving the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics, legislative work this year will focus on the central tasks of the Party and the country; conform to the actual needs of economic and social development; ensure good coordination of legislative tasks; and make better use of the role of laws to regulate, guide, guarantee, and facilitate. First, we will advance legislation in the social arena. We will continue to deliberate the drafts of the Law on Mental Health, the Law on Entry and Exit Administration, the Law on Insurance for Military Personnel, and the draft amendment to the Civil Procedure Law, and amend the Law Guaranteeing the Rights and Interests of Senior Citizens and the Labor Contract Law with a view to improving and making innovations in social administration. Second, we will improve legislation in the economic field. We will continue to deliberate the draft amendment to the Budget Law and the draft of the Law on Asset Evaluation, and amend laws such as the Land Administration Law, the Law on Disseminating Agricultural Technology, the Environmental Protection Law, the Law on Securities Investment Funds, and the Trademark Law with a view to forging institutions and mechanisms conducive to scientific development. Third, we will strengthen the system of cultural laws. We will formulate a law on public libraries and promote development of cultural undertakings, improve the system of Internet-related laws and promote a healthy cyberspace culture, and safeguard public interests and national information security. We will continue to urge relevant parties to formulate accompanying regulations, strengthen the filing and examination of normative documents, and urge and guide the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate to complete their concentrated review of existing judicial interpretations this year.
I would like to emphasize that raising the quality of legislation is an eternal theme in our work to strengthen and improve legislation and an inherent requirement for improving the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics. Following a review of our successful experiences and practices in recent years, we need to focus on the following points in our work:
First, we need to effectively strengthen coordination of legislative work, thoroughly verify the necessity and feasibility of legislative items, draw up our legislative agenda and annual plan scientifically, and vigorously urge relevant parties to solve major issues addressed in legislation so as to make our laws better suit the actual needs of economic and social development and satisfy the fervent aspirations of the people.
Second, we need to better integrate revising and improving laws with strengthening oversight work, and thoroughly analyze the issue of laws currently in effect being unsuitable and imperfect in the course of inspecting enforcement of laws and conducting investigations and studies on special topics in order to provide an important basis for revising and improving laws so that revision work is more targeted and legal provisions are more practicable.
Third, we will actively develop institutions, standards, and procedures for making legislation more scientific and democratic, further improve the methods for seeking public comments on draft laws, attach greater importance to conducting investigations and studies to understand actual conditions and the primary level, listen directly to the opinions of the general public, and correctly reflect and consider the interests of different sides. We will make people's participation in legislation a process of pooling wisdom and building consensus among the general public.
II. Seeing new results in giving impetus to implementing the central leadership's major decisions and arrangements
To ensure sound economic and social development this year, the Party Central Committee has made it clear that we need to have basic continuity in macroeconomic policy, maintain steady and robust economic development, keep overall price levels basically stable, ensure social stability, and continue to seize and make good use of the important period of strategic opportunities for China's development to make progress in transforming the pattern of economic development, make new breakthroughs in deepening reform and opening up, and achieve new results in improving the people's wellbeing. The Standing Committee will further strengthen and improve its oversight work and give impetus to implementing the central leadership's major decisions and arrangements.
First, we will listen to and deliberate the reports of the State Council on adjusting national income distribution, reform and development of state-owned enterprises, performance of the mechanism for ensuring basic funding for county-level governments, development of irrigation and water conservancy, land administration, and exploitation, use, and preservation of mineral resources. We will also inspect enforcement of the Agriculture Law, and urge relevant parties to make progress in transforming the pattern of economic development and carrying out restructuring.
Second, we will listen to and deliberate the State Council's reports on ensuring safe drinking water and providing social aid, inspect enforcement of the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, and urge relevant parties to intensify efforts to ensure and improve the people's wellbeing.
Third, we will listen to and deliberate the State Council's report on deepening the reform of the cultural system and promoting the great development and flourishing of socialist culture, inspect enforcement of the Law on the Protection of Cultural Relics, and give impetus to implementing the guiding principles of the Sixth Plenary Session of the Seventeenth Party Central Committee.
Fourth, we will listen to and deliberate reports on the implementation of China's annual plan and budgets and on the central government's final accounts and auditing work, examine and approve the 2011 final accounts of the central government, give impetus to implementing the central leadership's macro-control policies, and promote steady and robust economic development.
Fifth, we will listen to and deliberate the State Council's reports on administration of the entry, exit, residence, and employment of foreigners; enforcement of the Prison Law and prison work; and enforcement of the Anti-Drug Law and anti-drug work, and give impetus to innovation in social administration.
Sixth, we will listen to and deliberate the Supreme People's Court's report on intellectual property rights adjudication and the Supreme People's Procuratorate's report on the handling of civil and administrative cases, and give impetus to a just and clean judicial system. We will make inquiries on such topics as reform and development of state-owned enterprises, development of irrigation and water conservancy, and ensuring safe drinking water, and conduct topic-specific investigations and studies on issues related to accelerating the transformation of the pattern of economic development, strengthening environmental protection, and promoting urban community development, in order to make our oversight of these areas more effective.
To perform our oversight work well this year, we will focus on the following areas:
First, we will strengthen overall planning and coordination for oversight tasks and organize and arrange the work carefully to make sure goals are met, there are sufficient personnel to do the tasks, and deadlines are met.
Second, we will strengthen investigations and studies, better solicit opinions from a wide range of sources, especially ordinary people, analyze issues from an overall and long-term perspective, and provide practical and pertinent comments and suggestions on that basis.
Third, we will strengthen communication with the State Council, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, and exchange views with them in various forms in a timely fashion in order to improve the quality of report drafting and deliberation. We will also urge relevant parties to carefully study and act on suggestions made in the course of the Standing Committee's deliberations.
III. Making new progress in deputy services, external exchanges and self-improvement
Making full use of the role of deputies is an important aspect of upholding and improving the system of people's congresses. We will continue to strengthen services for deputies, conscientiously handle the bills and suggestions deputies submitted to this session of the NPC, and strive to make the handling process one of improving the Standing Committee's work and prodding relevant parties to improve their work and solve problems. We will continue to invite deputies to participate in activities of the Standing Committee and special committees, make arrangements for activities for them when the NPC is not in session, and help them maintain close ties with their constituencies and the people so that they can better participate in the administration of state affairs.
We will make full use of the NPC's characteristics and advantages in developing foreign contacts in keeping with our country's basic policies and general arrangements for its diplomatic work, continue to improve the mechanism for regular exchanges with foreign congresses and parliaments, expand friendly contacts with them, and actively participate in the activities of international and regional parliamentary organizations to help the international community better understand China's basic national conditions, development path, and foreign and domestic policies and create a favorable international environment for our country's economic and social development.
We will continue to strengthen self-improvement of the Standing Committee, keep a firm grasp of the correct political orientation of the work of the NPC, resolutely implement the central leadership's major decisions and arrangements, stress politics, keep the larger picture in mind, and maintain discipline. We will forge close ties with the people, carry out thorough investigations and studies, hold lectures on special topics, strengthen our sense of responsibility and mission in performing our duties in accordance with the law, and do all our work more enthusiastically. We will carry out a series of activities to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the current Constitution and conscientiously review our positive experiences and practices in upholding and improving the system of people's congresses and successfully carrying out the work of the NPC under the new circumstances. We will continue to strengthen contacts with local people's congresses and work with them in developing socialist democracy and the socialist democratic legal system, and we will further improve the competency of employees of NPC bodies.
Since the first half of last year, elections of new people's congresses at the county and township levels have been carried out throughout the country in accordance with the central leadership's decisions and arrangements and the amended Electoral Law of the National People's Congress and Local People's Congresses. Cities divided into districts, autonomous prefectures, provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government will elect their new people's congresses from the second half of this year to early next year. At this session, decisions will be made on matters related to the election of deputies to the Twelfth NPC. These elections have a direct bearing on strengthening state power and are an important event in the political life of the country. We will carry out the elections under the leadership of the Party in a fully democratic way and in strict accordance with the law. We will elect to people's congresses people who strictly abide by the Constitution and laws, maintain close ties with the masses, strive to serve them, and are trusted by them. We will make sure that these elections fully embody the nature of China's political power whereby the people are masters of the country, the broad representativeness of people's congresses, and the unique advantages of the system of people's congresses under which the deputies come from and have deep roots among the people. We will also make sure that the elections provide a firm organizational guarantee for upholding and improving the system of people's congresses and developing socialist democratic politics.
Ours is a great and noble cause, and our mission is arduous yet glorious. Let us rally even closer around the Party Central Committee, with Comrade Hu Jintao as General Secretary, hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, take Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents as our guide, thoroughly apply the Scientific Outlook on Development, be of one heart and one mind, break new ground, work diligently, welcome the Eighteenth National Party Congress with outstanding achievements, and strive mightily to achieve new success in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and accelerating socialist modernization.