Ministry in bid to extend its influence
The Ministry of Justice wants to extend its administration down to the grassroots in an attempt to strengthen its influence at village level.
A proposal raised at a recent national conference, chaired by Justice Minister Xiao Yang in Shandong's Heze City would see the establishment of thousands of judicial centres in villages and neighbourhood units next year.
The semi-official China News Service said the establishment of these centres could play the role of 'balance and check' with different government departments.
These centres would represent the ministry in the villages or streets - the smallest administrative units in Chinese society.
They would work with the two other law enforcement units - police and judges - to maintain law and order.
Figures made available from the conference showed there are now about 20,000 judicial centres across the country - less than 40 per cent of the proposed total.
The judicial centres are mainly responsible for providing legal advice and services to villagers and urban residents.
For example, they offer mediation services in legal disputes.
The China News Service said these centres helped organise more than 500,000 seminars and workshops to educate the public each year.
They also function as representative units of the ministry to protect its interests at grassroots level.
Mr Xiao hailed the centres for playing a crucial role in maintaining 'stability at the grassroots level' and helping to strengthen the rule of law in the villages.