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Report on the Work of NPC Standing Committee 2016
September 19,2016   By:CSHRS
Report on the Work of NPC Standing Committee 2016 
 
ZHANG Dejiang*
 
Major Initiatives of 2015
 
1. We made new strides in key areas of legislation.
 
The law is of great value in the governance of a country, and good laws are a prerequisite for good governance. Focusing on the key task of raising the quality of legislation, we channeled great effort into advancing legislation in key areas. Large in number, considerable in weight, and rapid in pace, our initiatives in legislation led to a number of important achievements that have supported and promoted the country's reform and development and ensured its stability.
 
1) Legislation on national security was enhanced.
 
The National Security Law represents a comprehensive, overarching, and fundamental law in the field of national security, playing a central role in the establishment of a system of national security laws. Acting in line with the Party Central Committee's overall plan for accelerating the development of rule of law in China's national security efforts, the Standing Committee gave high priority to the enactment of a national security law which was passed after three deliberations. As an important piece of legislation, the National Security Law embodies an integrative approach to national security, and defines national security in the context of China's conditions and realities. It sets out express provisions regarding the guiding notions, leadership system, basic principles, major tasks, and safeguard measures of China's security initiatives, thus laying a solid legal foundation for accelerating the establishment of a national security system and taking a distinctly Chinese approach to national security.
 
The fight against terrorism has an important bearing on China's national security, on the people's immediate interests, and on the country's reform, development, and stability. In the face of a grave and complex situation in the fight against terrorism both at home and abroad, it is of crucial importance that China intensifies its anti-terrorism initiatives. With this in mind, the Standing Committee adopted the Anti-Terrorism Law in December 2015, through which we have defined the basic principles of China's anti-terrorism initiatives, improved working systems and mechanisms in this regard, and stepped up anti-terrorism efforts with regard to preventive safety measures, emergency response, international cooperation, and supporting measures. Meanwhile, Amendment IX to the Criminal Law, passed by the Standing Committee, imposed criminal sanctions against five types of terrorism-related activities and introduced harsher punishments for crimes involving terrorism and extremism. The improvements to our counter-terrorism laws will be of great importance for preventing and punishing terrorist activities according to law, for safeguarding national and public security, and for protecting people's lives and property.
 
2) Legislation pertaining to people's wellbeing was pushed forward.
 
Putting the people first in legislation and making legislation for them is an important principle that we must uphold in our legislative work under present circumstances. In response to strong public complaints about serious air pollution such as the frequent occurrence of smog, the Standing Committee worked energetically to revise and improve relevant laws while continuing to strengthen oversight. In particular, we made comprehensive revisions to the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law in an effort to make the law significantly more targeted, practicable, and enforceable. Increasing the number of articles from 66 to 129, we made significant modifications and improvements to the law with a view to strengthening the obligations of the government, enterprises, and individual members of society in the prevention and control of air pollution. By upgrading prevention and control standards, tightening total emissions control, and improving the emissions permit system, the revised law enhanced the prevention and control of pollution from coal burning, industry, vehicle and vessel exhaust emissions, wind-borne dust, and agriculture. It also refined systems for coordinating intra-regional prevention and control efforts in key regions and for responding to heavy air pollution.
 
The people will not be content until they have confidence in the safety of the food they are eating. In a bid to establish the strictest possible oversight and supervision system for food safety, one that covers the whole process from production to consumption, the Standing Committee took prompt steps to revise the Food Safety Law, taking particular aim at prominent food safety problems. With an emphasis on preventing and reducing safety risks, the revised law has improved basic systems pertaining to safety standards and the monitoring and assessment of safety risks. It brings the whole process from food production and distribution to catering under supervision, and tightens legal penalties for the unlawful production and sale of food and for neglect and dereliction of food safety supervision duties. It also prescribes the establishment of a society-wide co-governance system for food safety that comprises the provision of rewards for reporting food safety problems, the release of food safety information, and the introduction of a food safety liability insurance, so that every member of society is encouraged to lawfully ensure that every bite of food is safe.
 
Opposition to domestic violence is an important indicator of social progress, and an essential requirement for harmonious families and a stable society. In September 2015, at the Global Leaders' Meeting on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, President Xi Jinping stated, "We will strive to eliminate all forms of violence against women, including domestic abuse." The Anti-Domestic Violence Law formulated by the Standing Committee emphasizes that the prevention of domestic violence is the shared responsibility of the state, society, and each family. The law has not only stipulated mechanisms and measures for preventing and dealing with domestic abuse, but has also introduced a system of restraining orders to protect the victims of family violence, thereby providing a stronger legal guarantee for preventing domestic violence against women, minors, and other groups and preserving equal, harmonious, and amiable family relations.
 
We also made timely changes to the Population and Family Planning Law. In order to put into effect the decision made at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee to comprehensively implement a policy of allowing all couples to have two children, the Standing Committee issued a decision on revising the Population and Family Planning Law, implementing a universal two-child policy as of January 1, 2016. The revised law explicitly stipulates that all couples are allowed to have two children. Those couples who had observed the previous one-child policy and are still willing to have only one child in their lifetime shall be eligible for a certificate of honor, which entitles them to benefits and assistance as stipulated. As a response to the major demographic shift that has taken place in China, the revision of the Population and Family Planning Law represents a major change to China's birth policy, and is a move that will have far-reaching effects on our efforts to promote the balanced development of China's population.
 
3) The criminal law system was improved.
 
With a view to implementing the guidelines on deepening judicial reform issued by the CPC Central Committee, and in an effort to adapt to new circumstances and requirements pertaining to criminal justice, the Standing Committee deliberated and passed the 52-article Amendment IX to the Criminal Law, making considerable revisions and improvements to the law. The revisions mainly involve abolishing capital punishment for nine crimes that rarely saw the sentence applied; improving legal regulations for punishing embezzlement and bribery, with a paragraph stipulating the applicability of life imprisonment and inapplicability of commutation or parole for a specific circumstance; imposing heavier punishments on cybercrime; strengthening protection of the rights of the person for women, minors, and the elderly; making it a crime to disrupt courtroom order, organize cheating in examinations, organize or fund illegal assemblies, or fabricate or purposefully disseminate false information; and repealing the crime of having paid sex with a girl under the age of 14,instead treating such an act as a case of rape in which stringency should be shown under the relevant stipulations of the Criminal Law.
 
4) Legislative work in other areas was coordinated.
 
The legislative power represents one of the most important functions and powers of the NPC. Following its submission of the draft revisions of the Legislation Law to the Third Session of the 12th NPC for deliberation in 2015, this year the Standing Committee has submitted the draft of the Charity Law to this session for deliberation on the basis of thorough preparations. The drafting of the law was overseen by the Internal and Judicial Affairs Committee. The Standing Committee has deliberated the draft twice, solicited comments from the public on two separate occasions, and made careful revisions accordingly before submitting it to this session for deliberation.
 
In addition, the Standing Committee formulated the Law on the Exploration and Development of Deep Seafloor Resources; revised the Advertising Law, the Seed Law, the Law on Promoting the Application of Scientific and Technological Advances, the Education Law, and the Higher Education Law; and deliberated draft legislation including a law on the management of international NGOs in China, a cyber-security law, a revision of the Securities Law, an asset evaluation law, amendments to the Law on the Promotion of Privately-Run Schools, a revision of the Wildlife Protection Law, a film industry promotion law, and a law on traditional Chinese medicine.
 
Attaching high priority to and acting in line with the concept of effective and democratic legislation, the Standing Committee engaged in vigorous efforts to refine legislative mechanisms and systems with a view to making our legislative work more systemic, timely, targeted, and effective.
 
First, with the approval of the CPC Central Committee, adjustments were made to the five-year legislative plan of the current Standing Committee, principally to include into the plan legislative items pertaining to the coordinated implementation of the Four-Pronged Comprehensive Strategy. As a result, the total number of legislative items in category I (draft legislation ready for deliberation by the Standing Committee) and category II (draft legislation soon to be ready for deliberation by the Standing Committee) increased from 68 to 102.
 
Second, we intensified the research and evaluation of legislative items, and carried out dedicated deliberations on key points and difficulties in the drafts of the National Security Law and the Anti-Terrorism Law as well as in the draft revisions of the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law and the Advertising Law.
 
Third, giving full play to the role of NPC deputies, we improved mechanisms for soliciting their opinions on draft laws and invited them to participate in the debate, research, and deliberation process.
 
Fourth, in a bid to broaden channels for the systematic participation of citizens in the legislative process, we formulated the Procedures for Releasing Drafts of Laws for Public Comments, according to which the drafts of laws for the first and second deliberations of the Standing Committee should both be promptly made available to the public. After the draft of the Anti-Domestic Violence Law was released, for example, we received more than 40,000 comments and suggestions from all sectors of society. We also put in place a sound system whereby specialists are appointed as legislative advisors, thereby further improving our consultation system for legislative decision making.
 
Fifth, we actively responded to the concerns of NPC deputies, members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), and people from all sectors of society, studying and incorporating where possible the comments and suggestions of all sides into the relevant laws as they were drafted, deliberated, or revised.
 
Sixth, we established a system of staying connected with local communities on legislative issues, making full use of the role of this system in directly soliciting the legislation-related views of the general public and officials at the community level.
 
2. We strengthened efforts to ensure and oversee the enforcement of the Constitution.
 
Ensuring the full enforcement of the Constitution represents the most important and fundamental task in building China into a socialist rule of law country. With a continued commitment to upholding the principles of the Constitution, the Standing Committee has worked to fulfill its duty to oversee the enforcement of the Constitution, energetically promote the spirit of the Constitution, resolutely safeguard its authority, and ensure its full and effective enforcement.
 
1) We introduced a system of pledging allegiance to the Constitution.
 
The Standing Committee examined and adopted the Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Implementing the System of Pledging Allegiance to the Constitution, thereby establishing the system into national law. The decision stipulates, "All those who are elected or appointed to public office by people's congresses at all levels or by the standing committees of people's congresses at and above the county level as well as by people's governments, people's courts, and people's procuratorates at all levels shall make a public pledge of allegiance to the Constitution when they officially assume office." This is a major measure for promoting governance of the country based on the Constitution and other laws. The words of the pledge embody the sense of loyalty, responsibility, and commitment that public servants are expected to have toward their country and people. The practice of pledging allegiance to the Constitution will play an important role in urging public servants to remain loyal to, comply with, and safeguard the Constitution, which in turn will help us in our efforts to ensure and oversee the enforcement of the Constitution.
 
2) We exercised constitutional stipulations on amnesty.
 
In commemorating the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Chinese War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and in the Global War against Fascism, and acting in line with the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee, the NPC Standing Committee, in compliance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution, adopted a decision on granting amnesty to certain prisoners. The President of China issued an order, granting amnesty to prisoners falling into four categories, with one category being those who fought in the War of Resistance and those who fought in the War of Liberation. This marks the eighth time since the founding of the People's Republic of China, and the first time since the introduction of the reform and opening up policy, that amnesty has been granted in China. The granting of amnesty represents a new step that has been taken to implement the system of amnesty as stipulated in the Constitution, advance the law-based governance of China in all areas, and apply the spirit of humanitarianism, and therefore has major political and legal implications.
 
3) We enacted the Law on National Medals and Titles of Honor.
 
The system of national awards and honors is an important system stipulated in the Constitution. In order to commend and award those who have made outstanding contributions to our country, foster and promote the core socialist values, and enhance the cohesiveness and appeal of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the Standing Committee, in accordance with Paragraph 16 under Article 67 of the Constitution and on the basis of a review of the past experience in granting medals and awards, drafted and then deliberated and passed the Law on National Medals and Titles of Honor. This law has defined the most important and fundamental provisions concerning national medals and honorary titles, such as the establishment of such medals and titles, eligible recipients, and awarding procedures, thereby laying down an important legal basis for establishing and improving relevant systems of Party and state awards and honors.
 
4) We improved the recording and review system for normative documents.
 
The recording and review of normative documents constitutes an important system for safeguarding the authority of the Constitution and ensuring legislative consistency. Seizing on the opportunity provided by the implementation of the revised Legislation Law, the Standing Committee took steps not only to improve the system of recording and reviewing normative documents, but also to enhance its capacity to implement this system. The working bodies of the Standing Committee, working in collaboration with relevant departments, established a mechanism for coordinating the recording and review of regulations, rules, and other normative documents. Thanks to years of efforts, all types of regulations, rules, judicial interpretations, and other normative documents have been brought under the scope of recording and review, and we have worked to see to it that any normative document that is found to, through review, conflict with the Constitution or any other law is rescinded or corrected in accordance with the law and relevant regulations. Our policy in this regard is to ensure that all normative documents are kept on record, all documents on record are examined, and all mistakes discovered in these documents are rectified. Over the past year, the working bodies of the Standing Committee reviewed over 30 administrative regulations and judicial interpretations submitted by the State Council, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate. They have also taken the initiative to review certain local regulations, studying over 200 suggestions from various departments. In doing so, they have ensured proper recording and review of normative documents.
 
3. We supported and promoted the comprehensive deepening of reform in accordance with the law.
 
The Standing Committee has remained committed to advancing reform on the basis of the rule of law and strengthening the rule of law through reform. Through our efforts in legislation and oversight, we have ensured that all of China's major reforms have a legal basis and are carried out soundly.
 
1) We granted authorization to support trial reforms.
 
For proposed reforms that come into conflict with existing laws, and for which the conditions for revising the relevant laws do not exist and trials are required first, the Standing Committee may act in accordance with the prescribed legal procedures to grant authorization for preliminary reform trials to be conducted, thereby providing the necessary legal basis and support for trial reforms in certain regions or particular sectors. Over the past year, we have issued authorization decisions on a series of initiatives, including the trial reform of the system of people's assessors, the trials for filing public interest litigation, the pilot program of a marketing authorization holder system for drugs and relevant issues, the trials to allow the mortgaging of contracted rural land-use rights and farmers' home property rights, and the adjustment to the applicability of certain stipulations in the Securities Law in order to implement the reform to introduce an IPO registration system. These decisions have been made with clear definition to the scope, content, and period of validity of the relevant authorizations. At the same time, we urged relevant government departments to carry out these trial reforms in accordance with the law, promptly sum up experience gained in practice, and report their progress to the Standing Committee.
 
2) We carried out a coordinated effort to revise similar or related stipulations across certain laws.
 
In a continued effort to help the government streamline administration, delegate more powers, improve regulation, and provide better services, we found it imperative to act promptly to revise or rescind any laws or regulations that are no longer suited to the current conditions. The Standing Committee, on the basis of thoroughly reviewing relevant motions put forward by the State Council, and in view of different circumstances, decided to adopt a comprehensive approach to the revision of the laws in question. We approved six decisions on the revision of existing laws which involved 24 laws and one decision on legal issues, making consistent revisions to certain articles therein concerning government review and price regulation. In addition, certain revisions were made to the Law on Commercial Banks, such as the deletion of a provision stipulating that the loan-to-deposit ratio of commercial banks was not to exceed 75%. This revision enables commercial banks to increase their credit supply by an appropriate margin and better support the development of the real economy.
 
3) We heard and reviewed reports on the progress of reforms from the State Council, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate.
 
Over the last several years, the Standing Committee has made authorization decisions on a number of pilot initiatives in reform and opening up. In April 2015, the Standing Committee heard and reviewed the State Council's work report on pilot free trade zones, giving a positive appraisal of the progress made in the development of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone and in the establishment of three more pilot free trade zones in Guangdong, Tianjin, and Fujian. The Standing Committee also proposed several improvements with regard to the active yet prudent development of pilot free trade zones. In August, during its review of the mid-term report of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate on the implementation of the pilot projects of accelerated procedures for certain criminal cases, the Standing Committee emphasized the need to enhance the organization, guidance, monitoring, and inspection of the pilot projects and conduct timely reviews and assessments, so that a reliable source of reference could be provided for improving criminal litigation procedures. In December, when the authorization allowing the State Council to make provisional adjustments on a trial basis to items requiring government review as prescribed by certain laws in Guangdong Province was about to expire, the Standing Committee reviewed the State Council's report on the implementation of this pilot practice and made a decision regarding the handling of subsequent matters following the expiration of the authorization in view of actual conditions.
 
4. We made progress in the provision of more effective oversight.
 
The Standing Committee exercises powers of oversight in accordance with the law. With a view to better serving the central task of economic development and the overall interests of the country, we channeled considerable energy into making our oversight work more effective, maintaining a focus on key priorities. Our oversight efforts have helped to ensure the implementation of the Party Central Committee's major decisions and plans, as well as law-based government administration and judicial impartiality.
 
1) We intensified our efforts to inspect compliance with laws.
 
Inspecting compliance with laws is a major statutory means by which the NPC exercises oversight. Over the past year, the Standing Committee inspected compliance with six laws, specifically the Law on Vocational Education, the Law on the Protection of Consumers' Rights and Interests, the Agriculture Law, the Law on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution, the Law on Guaranteeing the Rights and Interests of Senior Citizens, and the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy. Vice chairpersons of the Standing Committee, as well as myself as Chairman, headed inspection groups to localities to oversee and inspect compliance with these laws and on this basis, delivered reports on the findings at meetings of the Standing Committee and chaired inquiries on related specific issues. In addition, the Standing Committee strengthened follow-up oversight. Following our inspection of compliance with the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law and our deliberation on the inspection report in 2014, we made arrangements last year to hear and deliberate the State Council's feedback report on how it had responded to our 2014 report and our comments. We also heard and deliberated a report from the State Council on the work it did in response to our compliance inspection report for the Law on Vocational Education and our comments. Our efforts in this regard have contributed to the improvement of relevant government work.
 
Focusing on the prominent problems and weak points identified in the enforcement of the laws for which we carried out compliance inspections, the Standing Committee put forward comments and proposals for solving these problems and improving related systems, urging relevant government departments to work toward complete and effective enforcement of these laws. Taking these comments and suggestions extremely seriously, the State Council and its departments took earnest measures to rectify the problems exposed in the inspection reports and implement the Standing Committee's suggestions, thereby resolving a number of practical problems and refining the relevant systems and mechanisms. Based on an inspection of compliance with the Law on Vocational Education, the Standing Committee put forward proposals on improving the quality of vocational education by taking an employment-oriented approach, deepening the integration of vocational education with industry and cooperation between vocational colleges and businesses, and encouraging regular undergraduate institutions to shift their focus toward providing applied education. Under follow-up monitoring by the NPC's Education, Science, Culture, and Public Health Committee, the relevant government departments acted accordingly by revising the list of specialties offered by vocational colleges and promulgating methods for managing the provision of specialties by vocational colleges. As a result, the total number of specialties has been condensed from 1,170 to 748. In addition, the relevant departments formulated and implemented guidelines on encouraging the incorporation of vocational education providers into groups, resulting in the formation of over 1,000 vocational education groups nationwide. They also formulated and implemented the action plan for innovation and development in higher vocational education (2015-2018) and the guidelines on encouraging some local regular undergraduate institutions to shift toward providing applied education.
 
2) We strengthened the review and oversight of government budgets and final accounts.
 
In performing this legally prescribed duty, the Standing Committee heard and deliberated government reports on final accounts, auditing work, and the implementation of budgets, and reviewed and approved the central government's final accounts for 2014. We required governments at all levels and related departments to conscientiously observe the revised Budget Law, deepen the reform of fiscal and tax systems, follow standard procedures in compiling and managing budgets and final accounts, and make overall plans for the use of government funds so as to ensure that these funds are used more effectively.
 
We deliberated and approved a motion by the State Council on imposing ceilings on local government debt in 2015, and heard and deliberated a report on its work to strengthen local government debt management. Upon deliberation, we required that the growth of local government debt be tightly controlled, strict procedures be followed in the issuance of bonds by local governments, and strict controls be imposed on the use of borrowed funds, with due attention given to both short-term and long-term needs. We also required that improvements be made to mechanisms for evaluating debt management performance, assessing risks, and dealing with emergencies, so as to effectively prevent and defuse local government debt risks.
 
3) We helped to promote sustained, sound economic development.
 
The Standing Committee heard and deliberated reports by the State Council on development, including a report on the implementation of the 2014 plan for national economic and social development. We fully endorsed the work of the State Council and its relevant departments, remarking that the steady and positive performance of China's economy in 2014 had not come easily. At the same time, we proposed that the State Council continue to faithfully implement the decisions and plans of the Party Central Committee; understand, adapt to, and guide the new normal in China's economic development; focus on improving the quality and efficacy of economic development; maintain a proper balance between ensuring steady growth, promoting reform, making structural adjustments, improving living standards, and guarding against risks; and work to promote sustained, sound economic development and social stability.
 
We also heard and deliberated reports by the State Council on its work to promote the application of information technology and the deeper integration of information technology into industrialization, and on its work to improve and stabilize rural land contract relationships. We emphasized that the government should highlight information technology development as a strategy; promote breakthroughs in generic key technologies and build a system for innovation; improve public services concerning information; accelerate the commercialization and application of advances in information technology; and move faster to promote the application of information technology and integrate it more deeply into industrialization. We required that the government work to ensure smooth progress in determining, registering, and certifying contracted rural land-use rights; properly settle disputes over contracted land-use rights and solve the problem of an increasing number of rural residents having no land to farm; protect the rights and interests of farmers according to law; carry out the trial reform of the rural land system in an orderly fashion; speed up the establishment of a new type of system of agricultural operations; and develop modern agriculture.
 
The Standing Committee organized for the relevant special committees and working committees to carry out dedicated research on major issues concerning economic and social development during the 13th Five-Year Plan period. The 24 reports this led to focused on issues concerning public finance, the economy, education, science, culture, public health, energy conservation, environmental protection, work related to ethnic minorities and overseas Chinese, elderly care, agriculture, rural areas, farmers, and cooperation between Guangdong on the one hand and Hong Kong and Macao on the other, thereby providing the government with a valuable source of reference for formulating the 13th Five-Year Plan. These research activities have also better prepared deputies for examining and approving the 13th Five-Year Plan at this session of the NPC.
 
4) We helped to guarantee and improve living standards.
 
Safeguarding and improving the people's wellbeing and promoting social equity and justice represent priorities in the Standing Committee's oversight work. After hearing and deliberating the State Council's report on its efforts to develop the system of public cultural services, the Standing Committee proposed that the relevant government departments intensify the construction of public cultural and sports facilities; build a stronger contingent of personnel in the cultural and sports sectors; increase the supply of public cultural products and services; and make innovations in systems and mechanisms for the management and operation of public cultural programs, so that the people can benefit more from cultural development. After hearing and deliberating the State Council's report on the progress in deepening the reform of the medical and health care systems, the Standing Committee fully affirmed the notable achievements that had been registered, while also emphasizing that the government should continue to push the reform forward in line with China's realities, with strong confidence and the courage to overcome any difficulty that may emerge on the road ahead. We iterated that the government should do everything it can within reasonable limits to ensure basic medical and health care services for the people, improve the services provided at the community level, and establish sound supporting mechanisms. We also stated that it should strengthen top-level design, improve systems and mechanisms, and work energetically to find a Chinese solution to medical reform -- a difficult problem for all countries around the world -- with a view to making progress in building a Healthy China.
 
5) We continued to strengthen oversight of judicial work.
 
We heard and deliberated the report of the Supreme People's Court on the hearing of administrative cases and the report of the Supreme People's Procuratorate on the oversight over the enforcement of penal decisions. On this basis, we commented that the courts should fully observe the revised Administrative Procedures Law and improve the hearing of administrative cases, and that the procuratorates should standardize and improve oversight over the enforcement of penal decisions and ensure strict application of sentence commutation, parole, and medical bail. The Supreme People's Court held a teleconference for courts throughout the country, during which it laid out dedicated plans for strengthening and improving the hearing of administrative cases under new circumstances. The Supreme People's Procuratorate also earnestly considered our comments, formulating the decision on comprehensively strengthening and standardizing inspections of the enforcement of penal decisions.
 
The Standing Committee identified improving oversight mechanisms and methods as an important means of intensifying its oversight work and making its oversight more effective, and conducted new trials in this regard. This led, among other things, to the production of the guidelines on establishing a mechanism for the State Council to report to the NPC Standing Committee on the rectification of pronounced problems discovered in auditing. In June 2015, the Standing Committee heard and deliberated the State Council's annual report on auditing work and proposed corrections to problems identified therein. In December, the Standing Committee convened to hear and deliberate the State Council's report on the rectification of these problems, and then conducted an inquiry on specific issues based on our deliberation. This was a first in the oversight work of the NPC. Judging from the results, all problems discovered in auditing have been rectified, with the Ministry of Finance, the National Development and Reform Commission, and four other departments rectifying the major problems and presenting reports on their rectification work; and 47 departments and offices making corrections to 772 other problems. In addition, the National Audit Office referred leads on violations of the law and discipline uncovered during the auditing to the competent authorities for further investigation. Another result of the trials we conducted last year was the formulation of the guidelines on improving special inquiries. We carried out special inquiries in connection with our deliberations of the two compliance inspection reports for the Law on Vocational Education and the Law on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution, allowing the topics subject to inquiry to be further expanded. Leading officials from the State Council came to deliver reports on special topics at meetings of the Standing Committee, and attended joint group meetings of the Standing Committee as well as meetings of the Standing Committee's groups inspecting compliance with laws, to respond to inquiries and solicit comments. These practices fully demonstrate that the government is accountable to the NPC and subject to its oversight, and that the building of a rule of law government is picking up speed.
 
Major Tasks for 2016
 
1. Strengthening and improving legislative work under the new circumstances and accelerating the formation of a complete framework of laws and regulations.
 
The rule of law constitutes a robust guarantee for development. The Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee called for accelerated efforts to bring economic and social development in line with the rule of law. The Standing Committee must fully enforce the revised Legislation Law and the adjusted legislative plan; focus and work effectively on legislation in key areas; make, revise, repeal, or interpret laws when necessary; and work to promote implementation of the new vision of development through legislation. We will make in-depth efforts to legislate effectively and democratically, become cognizant of and abide by the natural laws that surround legislative work, and pay extra attention to raising the quality of legislation, so as to ensure that every piece of legislation accords with the guiding principles of the Constitution, reflects the will of the people, and wins their support, and that we have good laws to promote development and ensure good governance.
 
1) We will improve the legal system underpinning the socialist market economy.
 
Focusing on the goal of ensuring the market plays the decisive role and the government better plays its role in resource allocation, we will strengthen the rule of law in economic and social development and in the operation of the market economy. We will formulate general provisions of civil law in order to improve the basic system of civil law. We will work on a law on environmental protection tax, a tonnage tax law, a tobacco leaf tax law, a grain law, and an asset valuation law. We will revise the Securities Law and the Law on Promoting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. With a continued commitment to green development and ecological progress, we will revise the Law on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution, the Law on the Protection of the Marine Environment, and the Wildlife Protection Law, in a bid to put in place the most rigorous possible system for ecological conservation and environmental protection.
 
2) We will coordinate legislative work in social and cultural fields.
 
In an effort to strengthen and make innovations in social governance, we will work on a law on traditional Chinese medicine and a community correction law and revise the Law on the Promotion of Privately-Run Schools and the Law on the Red Cross Society. To deepen the reform of the cultural sector, we will formulate a law for guaranteeing public cultural services and a law on promoting the film industry. To promote integrated military-civilian development and deepen the reform of national defense and the armed forces, we will work on a law on transportation for national defense purposes and revise the Law on Officers on Active Service. To push forward anti-corruption legislation, we will formulate a law on international criminal judicial assistance and explore possible revisions to the Law on Administrative Supervision. We will also work on a law on the management of international NGOs in China and a cyber-security law.
 
3) We will take necessary steps to authorize trial reforms.
 
Acting in line with the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee, we will make law-based, timely decisions to authorize pilot reform projects so as to ensure that reform moves forward in line with the rule of law. We will carefully deliberate the mid-term and end-of-term reports of authorized pilot projects, conduct in-depth reviews and appraisals of practices developed in the projects and their effects, promote the spread of applicable practices to other areas in accordance with the law, and revise and improve the relevant laws at appropriate junctures.
 
4) We will ensure that the NPC plays the dominant role in legislative work.
 
In upholding the Party's leadership over legislative work, the Leading Party Members' Group of the Standing Committee will promptly request instructions from and submit reports to the CPC Central Committee on major issues and tasks in legislation, and will carry out the relevant tasks in accordance with the legally prescribed procedures. We will enhance the NPC's role in organizing, coordinating, and providing overall guidance for legislative work; further develop the mechanisms under which special committees of the NPC and working bodies of the Standing Committee organize the drafting of important laws; and keep the relevant departments on track in organizing the drafting of laws as scheduled in the legislative plan. We will work to ensure that legislative bodies play their important role of voicing, balancing, and adjusting the interests of different sectors of society. We will improve the systems for legislative debate, hearing, and evaluation; establish a mechanism of debates and consultations on any major adjustments affecting different interests that may result from legislation; and formulate procedures for collecting and discussing legislative items.
 
2. Exercising law-based, proper, and effective oversight.
 
The oversight by the NPC and its Standing Committee over the work of the State Council, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, and over compliance with laws, is an inherent requirement and institutional design of the system of people's congresses and a practice that embodies the constitutional principle that all state powers belong to the people. The Standing Committee must effectively exercise the power of oversight granted to it by the Constitution and other laws, bearing close reference to the new vision of development, reform measures, and requirements for rule of law introduced by the CPC Central Committee. Taking a problem-oriented approach, the Standing Committee will integrate oversight with support; ensure the effective enforcement of the Constitution and other laws; and facilitate the efforts of the State Council to carry out administration in accordance with the law and the efforts of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate to administer justice in an impartial way, so as to advance structural reform and ensure comprehensive implementation of the 13th Five-Year Plan.
 
1) We will strengthen oversight over the enforcement of the Constitution.
 
We will intensify publicity and education on the Constitution, promote the spirit of the Constitution, hold activities on the National Constitution Day, and organize government officials elected or appointed by the NPC or its Standing Committee to pledge allegiance to the Constitution. We will step up the recording and review of normative documents; take the initiative to review newly-formulated administrative regulations and judicial interpretations on an item-by-item basis; explore the Standing Committee-initiated review of local statutes in key areas; and carefully study, handle, and respond to suggestions from various sectors during reviews, so as to uphold the unity of our legal system and the authority of the Constitution and other laws.
 
2) We will strengthen oversight over compliance with laws.
 
We will inspect compliance with six laws, specifically the Food Safety Law, the Water Law, the Law on Promoting the Application of Scientific and Technological Advances, the Environmental Protection Law, the Road Traffic Safety Law, and the Law on Workplace Safety. We will carry out dedicated inquiries based on our deliberations of the compliance inspection reports produced for the Food Safety Law, the Environmental Protection Law, and the Law on Workplace Safety, so that our inquiries will be more targeted and more effective. Intensifying follow-up oversight, we will hear and deliberate the State Council's reports on how it has responded to our compliance inspection reports for the Law on Guaranteeing the Rights and Interests of Senior Citizens and the Food Safety Law as well as our comments. We will hear and deliberate a report from the State Council regarding the enforcement of the Law on Entry and Exit Administration, and conduct an investigation into the state of enforcement of the Law on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution.
 
We will work to ensure that the rule of law permeates the whole of society and takes root among the people. We will hear and deliberate the State Council's report on the implementation of the resolution on launching the sixth five-year initiative to popularize knowledge of the law, and act in line with legally prescribed procedures to adopt a resolution on raising public awareness of the socialist rule of law.
 
3) We will strengthen oversight over government budgets and final accounts.
 
We will hear and deliberate reports from the State Council on the central government's final accounts for 2015, on the auditing of the performance of the central government budgets and other items of revenue and expenditure in 2015, and on the implementation of 2015 government budgets. In line with the mechanism under which the State Council reports to the NPC Standing Committee on the rectification of pronounced problems discovered in auditing, we will hear and deliberate the State Council's report on its correction of such problems, and link efforts to oversee the correction of problems with efforts to inspect and oversee the budgets and final accounts of the State Council and its departments. We will conduct surveys on the implementation of the Standing Committee's decisions on strengthening oversight over economic work and intensifying inspection of and oversight over the central government budgets, and put into effect all reform measures aimed at strengthening the NPC's inspection of and oversight over government budgets.
 
4) We will strengthen oversight aimed at promoting economic and social development.
 
To speed up the formation of systems and mechanisms for guiding the new normal in economic development, provide impetus to supply-side structural reform, and ensure adherence to and refinement of the basic economic system, we will hear and deliberate reports from the State Council on the implementation of the 2015 plan for national economic and social development, on the progress achieved in deepening reform of the system of transfer payments, on the management of state-owned assets and the reform of their management system, and on scientific and technological innovation in agriculture and forestry. We will carry out research on establishing a comprehensive government financial reporting system. We will hear and deliberate the State Council's reports on the environmental conditions and the fulfillment of environmental protection targets in 2015, on the reform and development of higher education, and on the development and management of nature reserves. We will carry out research on the formulation of supporting rules and regulations for the enforcement of the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy and on issues concerning the development of community-level self-governance organizations in cities.
 
In an effort to ensure impartial administration of justice and enhance judicial credibility, we will exercise oversight under the topics of promoting judicial impartiality through greater judicial openness and safeguarding judicial impartiality through enhanced oversight over investigation, and hear and deliberate the relevant work reports of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate.
 
3. Giving full play to the principal role of NPC deputies and doing more to help them better maintain contact with the people.
 
We will thoroughly implement the system whereby we maintain direct contact with NPC deputies, and solicit and give expression to, by multiple means, their comments and suggestions on the Standing Committee's legislative and oversight work. We will improve our efforts to brief deputies on the Standing Committee's important initiatives and solicit their opinions. We will promote the establishment of permanent mechanisms allowing deputies to observe Standing Committee meetings, participate in inspections of compliance with laws, and join the activities of special committees and working committees, making sure that all local-level deputies to the NPC have at least one opportunity to sit in on a Standing Committee meeting. In addition, we will establish a mechanism under which we solicit the opinions of deputies and people from all sectors of society before deliberating the national economic and social development plan and government budgets. We will organize specific-topic study sessions for deputies. We will urge the State Council, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate to strengthen their ties with deputies and open up more channels for deputies to learn about state affairs and the government's work.
 
We will formulate guidelines on improving the system by which NPC deputies maintain contact with the people, enhance working and online platforms to facilitate contact between deputies and the public, establish a sound mechanism for relevant government departments to handle and give feedback on the comments and requests from the public that have been referred by deputies, and establish broader channels for the expression of social conditions and public sentiment, so as to give full play to the role that deputies play as a bridge between the government and the people.
 
We will improve mechanisms and approaches for examining deputies' proposals and handling their suggestions, so as to ensure that the process of examining and handling proposals and suggestions becomes a process whereby state bodies maintain close contact with deputies and improve their work. We will ensure NPC deputies play a bigger role in the drafting and revising of laws, and earnestly study and draw upon their comments and suggestions. We will urge and coordinate the efforts of relevant departments to handle deputies' suggestions, helping these departments to improve their work through the handling of key suggestions.
 
In line with the CPC Central Committee's guidance on strengthening and improving the deputy-related work of the NPC, we will work to enhance the political integrity and conduct of deputies and support electoral bodies in strengthening their law-based supervision over deputies' fulfillment of their duties, so as to ensure that deputies cherish the power granted to them by the people, carry out their duties in strict accordance with the law, observe the Constitution and other laws in an exemplary manner, and take the initiative in upholding common moral values.
 
* Zhang Dejiang (张德江), chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC). He delivered the report at the Fourth Session of the 12th NPC on March 9, 2016.