The Blue Book points to marked progress made in China’s political development
A press conference for the release of the “Blue Book of Political Development: Annual Report on China’s Political Development” was held in Beijing on the 5th of August. The Blue Book was jointly sponsored by the Institute of Political Science of CASS and the Social Sciences Academic Press, and issued under the general editorship of Fang Ning and Yang Haijiao, respectively Director and Deputy Director of the Institute of Political Science of CASS.
According to the Blue Book, 2012 has been a crucial year for changing the growth model and for completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, China’s social and economic development has progressed steadily and socialist modernization, while remaining stable, has achieved new developments in all dimensions. In the course of its political development China has maintained a sound momentum, moving forward prudently and achieving noticeable results. During the year in question, the solidifying of the Party continued at a steady pace, the system of socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics was gradually perfected, the reform of government systems was further deepened, the rule of law was advanced, public policies were made more scientific and democratic, the cause of human rights received an impressive development and political relationships of various sorts continued to advance in a coordinated manner.
The Blue Book analyzes the coordinated development of seven different types of political relationship in 2012, including the harmonious relationship between political parties; the improving relationships between social groups; the stable ethnic relationships; the smooth relationship between the central government and local authorities; the increasingly close relationships between the mainland and Hong Kong, Macau and the peaceful cross-Straits relationship based on mutual benefits; the increasingly coordinated relationship between state and society; and the stable international relations.
During the press conference Yang Haijiao explained how the Blue Book of Political Development, the first of its kind in China, gives a panoramic view of China’s political development in 2012, focusing on both the controversial issues and the bright spots. It also provides a timeline and an explanation for the appointment and dismissal of Party and government leading cadres, in the style of a reference book.
Legislation on the social sphere getting into gear
In the Blue Book it is admitted that there are still some legislative gaps, since many sorts of social relationships are not included in the scope of current legal regulations. Yet the focus of lawmaking is now being shifted from the economic sphere to the social and cultural spheres and to improving the legal system which regulates the internet. It is expected that during the period of the “Twelfth Five-Year Plan”, more laws to protect civil rights and ensure social development will be enacted.
The Blue Book also points to the urgent need to earnestly implement some important laws, for instance the “Law on the Protection of Minors” and the “Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women”, so as to render them more practicable and reliable, rather than leaving them as dead letter. It is exactly these supporting laws related to the social sphere that form the basic framework of social law. It is predicted that some inappropriate laws and regulations will be changed over time, so as to conform to the social development trend of restraining public rights and safeguarding private rights.
The Blue Book predicts that with regard to local legislation, local People’s Congresses will formulate “pioneering” laws and regulations based on local reform and development, as well as new situations and new problems which may come up within the society. These can not only provide legal guarantee for local economic and social development, but also help the government to explore new paths and accumulate experience in law-making. In addition, local authorities will attach more importance to legislation in the social sphere and make laws with a tight focus on the overall situation of local reform, development and stability and on the more controversial and difficult issues which concern the local people, thus ensuring their well-being and effectively improving their lives.
The regulating of democratic politics to be promoted at the community level
The Blue Book shows that since the promotion of community-level democracy began with villagers’ self-governance more than 30 years ago, a series of significant achievements has been made, including the institutionalization and normalization of direct elections and the continual improvement of legal systems and governance mechanisms. In 2012, democratic elections at the community level were pushed ahead quite noticeably. The election of NPC members, for example, were equalized in the rural and urban areas for the first time, more attention was paid to protecting the rights of voters and grass-roots democratic elections became increasingly fair and open.
Meanwhile, the Blue Book also reveals the severe corruption and rampant misconducts present among grass-roots cadres. Some grass-roots governments turn a blind eye to the “Organic Law of Villager’s Self-governance”, forcibly intervening in villagers’ autonomy, while some primary Party organizations fail to govern themselves according to law or evade laws. In view of this, effective measures must be taken to remedy the situation and propel the regulating of democracy at the grass-roots level.
Envisaging the promotion of community-level democracy in the future, the Blue Book suggests that the local governments should lay stress on reinforcing legal education, improve the rule of law in the countryside and further establish and perfect the legal systems for democracy at the local level. In the meantime, efforts must be made to strengthen the construction of democratic systems and foster democratic attitudes so as to provide the driving force for the healthy development of primary-level democratic systems. Besides, importance must be attached to developing autonomous social organizations in the rural grassroots and allowing them to give full play to their functions of self-governance.
Future public policies to be oriented towards the social sphere
Since the start of the new century, social issues in China’s economic and social development have drawn wide attention, as policies to support the people’s well-being are released in succession, and investments to improve the people’s living standards continue to increase. The Party and government have defined the shift from economic growth to public policies oriented towards the social sphere as the main theme of their current work. As the Blue Book indicates, future public policies will be based on the deepening of administrative reform and promoting the transformation of government functions, and will always be geared towards the improvement of the people’s welfare.
During the press conference Yun Jie, co-author of the Blue Book and Director of the Department of Public Administration of the Institute of Political Science, CASS, claimed that in recent years public policies concerning the social sphere have been made increasingly transparent. Public opinion, moreover, is exerting a larger and larger influence on public policies. In modern society, pressure from public opinion and the massive quantities of information available are so overwhelming that the government is often at a loss when making public policies in the social sphere.
At present, public policy evaluation and responsibility systems are yet to be established. Yun added that “when making public policies, the government should retain its subjectivity and independent thinking, stick to the principle of improving the people’s well-being and maintain fairness and justice by publicizing the process of public policy making”.
Translated by Chen Mirong
Revised by Gabriele Corsetti