The fight against terrorism and corruption will be top priorities for judicial officials over the coming year, the mainland's chief justice and chief prosecutor said yesterday in their annual reports to the National People's Congress (NPC).
The number of terrorism attacks has increased in recent years. In the latest incident, on March 1, a group of knife-wielding assailants staged a bloody attack in Kunming railway station, leaving 29 civilians dead and 143 injured.
International authorities are also investigating whether terrorists may have been involved in the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, which was carrying 239 passengers and crew, including 154 Chinese, when it disappeared on Saturday during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
"We will severely punish offenders who harm national security, especially those who carry out terrorist attacks, pose serious threats to social security and damage military facilities, to safeguard national security and social stability and help build up people's sense of security," said Zhou Qiang, president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) in his maiden report to nearly 3,000 national lawmakers.
Cao Jianming , the nation's top prosecutor, also highlighted anti-terrorism efforts as a key task.
"We will crack down resolutely [on] separatism, infiltration and subversion by hostile forces, all kinds of violent terrorist crimes and crimes which seriously harm social security and endanger the safety of people's life and property," said Cao.
Zhou's report said mainland courts convicted and punished 1.16 million criminals last year, including 325,000 who were convicted of felony charges.
The SPC had reviewed death sentences to ensure that capital punishment was only imposed on a very limited number of people convicted of extremely serious crimes, said Zhou.
Both Zhou and Cao promised to continue their anti-corruption efforts. At least 32 top officials have been under investigation or formally charged, with the latest being Shen Peiping , vice-governor of Yunnan .
The anti-corruption efforts won applause from deputies, amid mounting speculation that the central government would soon formally announce its investigation into Zhou Yongkang , the former security tsar.
"Senior officials were almost immune to punishment previously. People will only applaud the anti-corruption campaign when the top guys are also brought down," said Liu Fan, an NPC deputy from Jiangsu.
Additional reporting by Mandy Zuo