Beijing boasts of building system of laws in 30 years
Beijing issued a white paper yesterday touting its 'Socialist System of Laws with Chinese Characteristics' as a milestone in the building of a legal system that serves the country's development needs, while adequately protecting human rights.
But officials at the press conference were reluctant to address a question on the de facto house arrest of Shandong lawyer Chen Guangcheng and the wife of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, Liu Xia, with the question and answer subsequently removed from the transcript and video broadcast of the press conference
When asked by an overseas reporter about the legal basis for keeping Chen and Liu incommunicado, Li Fei, deputy director of the National People's Congress Standing Committee's (NPCSC) Legislative Affairs Commission, said: 'In our country the freedom of a citizen is adequately protected, and the use of any compulsory measures is based on law'.
Since the end of last year, mainland officials have been boasting of completing a 'Socialist System of Laws', which now covers basic laws in all areas of domestic and foreign affairs and allows the government to rule the country according to law.
Xin Chunying, another deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission, said the building of a system of laws took several hundred years in many countries in the West, but only 30 years in China.
'This is an important milestone in the construction of a socialist, democratic legal system in China, and an important sign of the maturing of a socialist system with Chinese characteristics,' Xin said.
The white paper is the first to detail modern China's legislative history, and offers a comprehensive introduction to the country's body of laws, which now comprises 240 national laws, 706 administrative regulations and 8,600 regional regulations.
The white paper said this system of laws 'studies and draws on the good legislative experience of other countries and learns from their legislative achievements, but never slavishly imitates their models'.
The white paper reaffirms the pre-eminence of the constitution, which guarantees basic rights. However, as noted by many rights lawyers, it is not possible to pursue a lawsuit in mainland courts based on the infringement of constitutional rights alone.
'This is a question concerning interpretation of the constitution,' Li said. 'According to our constitution, it is the NPCSC which carries out interpretation of the constitution; this is different from practices in the West.'