Zhang Dejiang

NPC chairman Zhang Dejiang's election 'unconstitutional', says lawyer

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 March, 2013, 2:03pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 4:12am

A lawyer has filed suit against one of China's highest officials, calling his election as the head of the top legislative body “unconstitutional”.

Wang Cheng, a Hangzhou lawyer and social activist, on Monday sent a letter to the nation’s highest court, alleging that Zhang Dejiang's election to the National People’s Congress was invalid.

In the document, he said Zhang’s election violated China’s constitution, Article 65 in particular.

The article stipulates that no one on the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress shall hold office in any of the administrative, judicial or procuratorial organs of the state.

“But when Zhang was elected as the chairman of the NPC Standing Committee on March 14, he was still serving the post of China’s vice-premier,” Wang said.

Zhang formally stepped down from his government post two days later when the new line-up of vice-premiers was announced.

Wang also alleged the elections of five vice-chairmen of the NPC Standing Committee were invalid under the same reasoning: former president of the Supreme People’s Court Wang Shengjun; former head of the National Development and Reform Commission Zhang Ping; former health minister Chen Zhu; former vice-president of the Supreme People’s Court Wan Exiang; and former director of the State Council Information Office Wang Chen.

Four of those officials resigned from their former posts within a few days after their election, with the exception of Wang Chen, who is still holding his State Council post.

In the past, most Chinese officials gave up their government posts shortly after taking up their NPC titles to comply with the constitution, but Wang Cheng called the practise a “huge flaw” in China’s change of power.

“A few days may not seem a long time, but considering NPC is the nation’s highest legislative body, one day, or even half a day is intolerable,” he said.

Wang Cheng also pointed out a contradiction in the constitution.

“The Supreme People’s Court is supposed to be the highest judiciary body and oversees all laws, but the constitution stipulates that the court answer to the NPC and NPC Standing Committee. Yet who decides whether the NPC’s conduct is unconstitutional?” he said.

Wang Cheng said the Supreme People’s Court received his lawsuit on Tuesday, but he had yet received a response. 

He said that by pointing out the flaws, he wanted to uphold and improve the constitution.

“I don’t care whether I am proven right or wrong. I will be glad if they give me a formal response and explanation,” he said.