Officials Must Set a Good Example in Observing the Law*
February 2, 2015
Officials at all levels have an important responsibility for advancing the law-based governance of China. Though small in number they constitute the key factor and must set a good example in upholding, studying, observing and applying the law, driving the whole Party and nation towards a socialist rule of law with Chinese features, and building China into a socialist country under the rule of law.
Since the introduction of reform and opening up in 1978, and especially after the 15th CPC National Congress in 1997 prioritized law-based governance and building a socialist country under the rule of law, we have made considerable progress, and officials at various levels have played an important role. Nevertheless, some officials have a weak awareness of the rule of law; problems such as laws being ignored or not being strictly enforced, and even bending the law for personal gain, have disrupted the political, economic, cultural, social and ecological order. All officials should be alert and take action to correct and resolve such problems.
The beliefs, determination and actions of officials have a great significance in advancing the law-based governance of China. They should set a good example in upholding the law and holding the law with reverence; set a good example in studying, understanding and having a good mastery of the law; set a good example in observing the law and defending the rule of law; and set a good example in applying the law and working in accordance with the law.
Officials must strengthen the basic approach to the rule of law that the Constitution and other laws should be put above all else, that everyone is equal before the law, and that power is prescribed by the law and exercised in accordance with the law. They must step up and fight against behavior that endangers, undermines, or damages the rule of law. We should improve their understanding of the rule of law as soon as they are appointed, strengthening relevant education, awareness, management and supervision. Studying and understanding the law is the prerequisite for observing and applying the law. We must systematically study the theory of Chinese socialist rule of law, so as to hold a correct stance in addressing issues concerning the rule of law. The priority is to study the Constitution, along with other laws and regulations closely related to our leadership. Officials at all levels must understand, as prescribed by the law, what they should and should not do, examining their conscience against the law and disciplining their behavior by the law. Party committees at all levels should attach importance to training in the rule of law and improve mechanisms for studying the law.
Officials must remain ever mindful not to cross or challenge the line of the law, set a good example in observing and enforcing the law, and create an environment of respect for the rule of law in which all of our people work in accordance with the law, look to the law when meeting difficulties, and rely on the law to resolve problems. We should plan our work, tackle issues, and discipline our words and deeds in accordance with the rule of law. They must turn their respect and reverence for the rule of law into thinking and conduct, making decisions and acting under the rule of law. Party discipline and state laws must not become tokens, and any violation of discipline and laws must be punished.
Principal Party and government leaders should assume the main responsibility for the work of advancing the rule of law. Comprehensive efforts must be made to ensure that a well-conceived approach is taken to legislation, that law is strictly enforced, that justice is impartially administered, and that the law is observed by everyone. Appointing competent officials is the most important, fundamental and effective measure. The mastery of the rule of law is a major component of officials' talent and integrity. We need to make legal compliance and working in accordance with the law important components of assessing officials' performance. We should design an evaluation system for officials' progress in advancing the rule of law, and draw up provisions for making use of such evaluation results. We should implement the institutional arrangements put forward at the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in 2014, and apply them as soon as possible.
In advancing the rule of law, we must choose the right direction and create strong political guarantees. Party leadership is the fundamental guarantee for the socialist rule of law. Our path of Chinese socialist rule of law is a specific embodiment of upholding the rule of law; our theory of Chinese socialist rule of law is a theoretical achievement in developing the rule of law; our Chinese socialist rule of law system is a legal manifestation of building the Chinese socialist system.
The CPC is the leadership core of China's socialist undertakings, exercising overall leadership and coordinating work in all areas. Socialist rule of law must uphold the Party's leadership, while the Party's leadership must rely on socialist rule of law. The law reflects both the Party's thoughts and the people's will. The Party leads the people in enacting and enforcing the Constitution and other laws; the Party must confine its activities to the areas prescribed by the Constitution and other laws; all these embody the Party's leadership strength. The Party and the law, the Party's leadership and the law-based governance of the country are highly consistent. We govern the country and exercise state power on the basis of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China.
Every Party and government organization and every official must obey and abide by the Constitution and other laws. No one may use the Party's leadership as a pretext to override the law with their own arbitrary fiats, place their own power above the law, or bend the law for personal gain. Power is a double-edged sword. It benefits the people when exercised in accordance with the law, but endangers the country and the people when exercised outside the law. To confine the exercise of power to an institutional cage, we must designate, discipline, restrict and supervise power in accordance with the law. In advancing the law-based governance of China, we must focus on safeguarding and promoting social fairness and justice. Social fairness and justice is a lofty goal of the CPC. In order to serve the people wholeheartedly, we must pursue fairness, uphold justice, and protect the people's rights and interests.
* Main points of the speech at a study session on implementing the decisions of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee and advancing the rule of law, attended by officials at the provincial/ministerial level.
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)