Why Is It So Difficult To Carry Out “Rule by Law"?
Between Oct 20 and 23rd, the 4th Plenary Session of the 18th
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee,
is being held in Beijing.
This is actually the first time in CCP plenary sessions
history, to discuss the topic “rule by law".
Although “rule by law" has been mentioned as the ruling slogan
of CCP many times over the years,
now is the first time it is being discussed.
China still did not reach the status of “rule by law",
so what reasons are there for this change?
Since the 4th Plenary Session of 18th CCP being held,
“rule by law" has become one of the terms used with the highest
degree of so called importance,
according to mainland media since Oct. 20.
In fact, the term “rule by law” was proposed
by Chinese academia as early as 1979.
In 1997 “rule by law" was written into the 15th CCP
as one of the basic strategies of governing the country.
Two years later, the Second Session of the Ninth
National People’s Congress,
revised the constitution by adding the “rule by law".
In the following 17th and 18th Conference Reports,
“rule by law" was also repeatedly mentioned.
From the time of publishing 15th CCP Conference report
in 1997 to today, 17 years have since passed.
So during these 17 years, how did the CCP practice
“rule by law" ?
Southeast University law professor Zhang Zanning:
“Now the status quo ‘rule by law’ in China is very bad.
The Government agencies and judiciary system
are not strictly in accordance with the law
to implement the administration.
The phenomenon of infringing
the citizen’s legitimate rights is pervasive."
Well-known media worker Bei Feng is now living
in North America.
He says: “For the topic of whether it really is ‘rule by law’ or not,
we need to look at what it has done rather than what it says.
During the past two or three weeks, more than seventy
to eighty people in Mainland China
have been punished with criminal detention by the crime
of disturbing the peace and provoking conflict,
due to supporting Occupy Central in Hong Kong,
which is easily seen, no doubt, as no rule by law. “
So what reasons led to the failure of achieving “rule by law"
after the slogan was used in China for so many years?
Professor Zhang Zanning: “The main reason the rule by law
was never totally realised in China,
is mainly due to the ‘One Party Dictatorship’.
The judiciary system is not independent of China’s judiciary
the court and all others, need to toe the party line
or a certain group or organisation.
Such a law might not really bring any real fairness
and righteousness, let alone a real rule by law at all."
“The CCP is superior to the law" and “the judiciary
is not independent".
This has been criticised by domestic law experts
and folk scholars.
Before 4th Plenary Session was held, “Caixin", “Beijing News"
and other national media,
published advice given from the domestic legal professionals.
They invariably referred to it as, “the CCP must abide
by the law".
That means the power of the CCP itself
must be bound by the law.
Bei Feng: “In the recent two days, some netizens have said:
Is it possible to first register the CCP according to law
and make the CCP become a mitigable entity?
For example, when people have some discontented aspects
upon CCP’s guidelines and policies,
all sides are able to resolve the problems by judicial channels.
But we also know, this point is unlikely to be achieved.
So in China, one obvious thing within the framework
of the law is:
if the CCP can behave within the legal framework
and without a legal status of monopoly.
If this is possible, in my opinion, the Rule By Law can be
discussed, otherwise everything else empty."
In addition to whether the CCP power can truly be bound
by outside powers,
the “rule by law" emphasised by the meeting, is mainly either
for the official or the people,
people are watching the outcome.
One of three senior legal experts is 86-year-old Guo Daohui,
Guo told domestic media, the key place of rule by law
is to rule the national power.
The national power are embodied by national officials.
So in the first case, we need to punish the officials.
But this concept will not be accepted by the officials.
The Chinese People’s University political science
professor Zhang Ming says to “Deutsche Welle" that,
the authorities mainly rely on laws to better ruling over people.
So-called “rule by law" is actually to punish people by law.
If we want to resolve this issue, there is still a long way to go.
Zhang Ming said that a true rule by law will first
require the rulers to openly obey the law.
Interview & Edit/ShangYan Post-Production/ShuCan