NPC again considers law to rein in violent city administrators

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 April, 2011, 12:00am


The mainland is once again considering a law aimed at ending the use of violence, intimidation and other illicit means by chengguan - city administration officials who are infamous for their violent tactics.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee began its fourth round of discussions on a draft of the administrative enforcement law, first tabled in 2005, in Beijing on Wednesday, The Beijing News said yesterday.

The report said the law was aimed at balancing the powers of several administrative law-enforcement agencies and the legal rights of individuals and civil organisations.

Professor of law Jiang Mingan, of Peking University, who has been advocating such a law for more than 20 years, said yesterday it would serve a vital role in preventing abuses of power.

'Nationwide, urban management officers will undoubtedly no longer find it so easy and convenient to confiscate street vendors' assets when the new law is adopted,' Jiang said. 'The current law is too ambiguous and not good enough in terms of checking and balancing the power of those agencies.'

The image of such officials was tarnished after a man in Tianmen, Hubei province, was beaten to death in early 2008 after he was discovered to be filming the violence used by chengguan.

Their reputation plunged further when a handbook for urban management officers was circulated across the country in March 2009.

It sparked uproar online with its depiction of tactics officials could use to beat a person without leaving noticeable injuries. Last week, up to 2,000 people took to the streets and triggered a riot in protest at the beating of a migrant worker by a throng of urban management officers on the outskirts of Shanghai.

And in March last year, thousands of residents of Kunming , capital of Yunnan province, overturned police vehicles and besieged a gang of urban management officers who allegedly beat an elderly woman street vendor.

Jiang said that if the law was enacted, even a street hawker would be entitled to take officers to court for suspected violations of its provisions.

Jiang said that one of the main obstacles to the passing of the law was the strong opposition from various administrative agencies.

'Frankly speaking, I guessed earlier that the draft would be passed this time but it turned out to be nothing more than another round of discussion,' he said.

'I have to underline that there is still a chance, although it is slim, for the law to be passed later this year,' Jiang said.