Chinese Legislative Tranparency: Expats observe lawmaking body’s annual meeting Michael Sylvester

 SZ.jpgForeign observers attend the opening of the annual session of Shenzhen’s legislature yesterday. Twenty-nine expats invited to attend the meeting as observers included consul officials from a variety of countries, teachers and executives with foreign-funded companies.

Rule of law is a key term in the No. 1 proposal of this year’s city political advisory meeting, which opened yesterday, and is expected to be one of the highlights of discussion among Shenzhen’s political advisers this week.

The No. 1 proposal of each year’s plenary session of the Shenzhen committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference is always considered a reflection of the hottest issues in the city’s development.

The proposal was submitted by the social affairs, legal affairs and national religion committee of the city’s political advisory body and calls for strict administration by law, strengthened judicial authority, development of the legal service industry and improvement of people’s awareness of rule of law.

“The quality of our legislation should be improved while citizens should be guided to get involved in the lawmaking process in an orderly manner. Additionally, the lawmaking process should be open and scientific,” said Li Zhenhe, director of the committee.

The proposal also suggests that competent and influential law firms from Hong Kong and foreign countries be encouraged to open offices or branches in Shenzhen’s Qianhai area, which will be a model for development of the city’s legal service industry.

Qianhai is a 15-square-kilometer coastal strip in Nanshan District that will be developed into a hub for modern service industries of Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

“Rule of law should become Shenzhen’s faith,” said lawyer Liu Hui, one of the 517 members of the city’s political advisory body.

Liu suggested that district-level courts and procuratorates report directly to their superiors instead of their district legislature. Additionally, district-level courts and procuratorates should be funded by the city government instead of their district government.

The proposal also mentions that some Shenzhen government officials have a poor awareness of rule of law. Law enforcement and compliance need improvement and judicial organs lack solid authority, the proposal states. These shortages put Shenzhen far behind developed international cities in rule of law, it continues.

The four-day session of the political advisory body also will focus on other hot issues in Shenzhen’s development, such as economic growth, environmental protection, food safety and cultural development.

Five themed discussions at which political advisers are expected to exchange views in a free manner are scheduled for today.

Policy decisions will not be made at the four-day advisory session, which is one of the two most important political meetings of the year. Policy decisions will be made at the other leading event, which is the plenary session of the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Congress — the city’s legislature — which is scheduled to open tomorrow. 

This article originally appeared in the Shenzhen Daily on 14 January 2013.