Local governments will see it as a challenge to their powers The new regulation is an important element of the reforms of China's administrative law system, but implementing it will not be easy, legal scholars say. 'This law is an improvement in how the government conducts its affairs and a significant step in protecting the rights of the ordinary people,' said Jiang Mingan , a law professor at Peking University. The reform process started more than a decade ago and laws already introduced include the Administrative Litigation Law in 1990 and the Administrative Penalty Law six years later. China's entry to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) provided impetus for the central government to further reform its bureaucracy. 'China gave the WTO a number of undertakings, [such as] creating an honest, transparent, responsible and reasonable government,' said James Wong Kong-tin, an expert on mainland law at the Open University of Hong Kong. Mainland law drafters are now working on a law to codify the government's powers to carry out administrative detention and eviction of families. Further legislation on the standardisation of fees and how they are collected are also in the pipeline. But Professor Jiang said the Administrative Approval Law would remain a cornerstone of Beijing's efforts to establish a government which ruled by law. Professor Jiang and 13 other experts have just finished a draft of the Administrative Procedural Law, which is part of the current agenda of the National People's Congress. This law seeks legal requirements for the various governmental administrative procedures. Mr Wong said implementing the Administrative Approval Law would face many hurdles. 'Opposition from local governments will be the main challenge, as this law will definitely limit their powers,' he said. For example, the new law states that government departments must shoulder the administrative costs of the various approval processes. 'It is likely that some local governments will try to find new ways to meet their budget needs after the old fees are abolished,' Professor Jiang said. Another problem is that the regulation allows exemptions in cases of 'public interest', but does not spell out what would qualify for an exemption. Changing people's way of thinking - especially among bureaucrats - could also be an uphill task. 'We know the difficulties and we know our target,' Professor Jiang said. 'But I believe there is a good chance that we can do this well.'