Theory and Practice of the Rule of Law in Contemporary China

Dr. Marsela Musabelliu

The world is a diverse place, with many different developmental and political patterns. By summarizing its historical experience and based on its prevailing conditions, China has chosen a socialist path. It strives to build socialism with Chinese characteristics, create a dignified life for the Chinese people, and realize the people’s right to development.

In the rest of the world, many times China is seen through a certain lens, meaning from the outside in. Nevertheless, it is important to understand how the governing mechanisms work within China, and to that, the rule of law becomes the starting point of comprehending a system of a country.  Prof. Mo Jihong from the Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) has recently introduced the history of theory and practice of the rule of law construction in modern China. By understanding the relationship between Xi Jinping Thought and rule of law, and the direction of the path of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics, a foreign audience can better grasp the rule of law prevalence and application in the PRC, whose final aim is promoting the modernization of state and social governance.

Background

China is a socialist country, and the Communist Party is the ruling party. The party’s way of governing is to govern the country according to the law. As the ruling party, the party governs the country through the constitution and laws and regards the rule of law as the basic way of governing the country. This is the inherent logic of the socialist political system with Chinese characteristics. The leadership of the party is the fundamental guarantee for the people to be the masters of the country and the rule of law.

General Secretary Xi Jinping has pointed out “The relationship between the party and the rule of law is the core issue in the construction of the rule of law”. Whether the major event of comprehensively promoting the rule of law can be done well depends on whether the direction is correct, and whether the political guarantee is strong or not is to adhere to the leadership of the party, the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the theory of the socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics.

The leadership of the party is the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the most fundamental characteristics of the socialist rule of law. The socialist system with Chinese characteristics is the fundamental institutional guarantee for comprehensively advancing the rule of law. It is an action guide for comprehensively advancing the rule of law.

Democratic centralism is the basic principle of activity for party and government institutions to perform their duties. The idea of democratic centralism embraced in China has the same connotation in the two fields of party leadership and state governance. Subordinates obey their superiors, and the whole party obeys the central government. The principle of “democratic centralism” requires power and system design that are compatible, whether within the party or at the national level.

Building a socialist rule of law system with Chinese characteristics is the general starting point for comprehensively advancing the rule of law.

Milestones of legal construction in China

In December 1978, China established the goal of reform, opening-up, and socialist modernization, and promptly transformed the “class struggle as the key link” during the Cultural Revolution into “economic development “, and formed the theory of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics in the new era.

In October 2014, the Fourth Plenary Session of the Eighteenth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China reviewed and approved the “Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Promoting Governing the Country according to the Rule of Law”.

This was the first comprehensive and systematic exposition of the CPC as the ruling party in the form of party documents. The basic concept of governing the country by the rule of law put forward the goal of the rule of law in building a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics and a socialist country under the rule of law.

In November 2020, at the Central Work Conference on Comprehensively Governing the Country according to the Rule of Law, “Xi Jinping’s thought on the Rule of Law” was confirmed for the first time as the guiding ideological position of the socialist rule of law construction with Chinese characteristics. Xi Jinping’s thought on the rule of law uses Marxist positions, viewpoints and methods, based on the reality of the construction of the rule of law in China. It adheres to the problem-oriented, people-centered, uses the rule of law to promote the modernization of the national governance system and governance capacity as the driving force, and proposes to adapt to the greatness of the Chinese nation.

Xi Jinping’s Thought on the Rule of Law

In November 2020, at the Central Work Conference on Comprehensively Governing the Country according to the Rule of Law, General Secretary Xi Jinping put forward the “Eleven Persistence” doctrine for comprehensively governing the country according to the rule of law which is regarded as the core of “Xi Jinping’s Thought on the Rule of Law “.

They adhere to: 

  • the Party’s leadership of the comprehensive rule of law
  • the people-centered approach
  • the path of the socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics
  • the rule of law and the rule of law by the Constitution
  • the advancement of the national governance system and the governance capability modernization
  • the construction of a socialist rule of law system with Chinese characteristics
  • the joint promotion of governing the country according to law, ruling the country according to law, and administering according to law, building a country under the rule of law, a government under the rule of law, and a society  under the rule of law
  • the comprehensive promotion of scientific legislation, strict law enforcement, fair justice, and law-abiding by all
  • the overall promotion of domestic rule of law and foreign rule of law
  • to the construction of a high-quality legal team with both political integrity and ability
  • the “key minority” of leading cadres

The latest rule of law theory is required by the revival era. The latest manifestation of the Sinicization of the Marxist rule of law theory has played a role as a program of action and fundamental compliance for the practice of comprehensively governing the country according to the rule of law.

The Key Functions of Xi Jinping’s Thought on the Rule of Law are first to comprehensively and systematically summarize the major achievements and experiences of China’s rule of law construction since the reform and opening up. Secondly, to adhere to the scientific guidance of the socialist rule of law theory with Chinese characteristics, and at the same time to effectively provide socialist rule of law practice with Chinese characteristics. Thirdly, the Action Guide has embarked on a path of the socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics that are different from Western rule of law countries. Fourth,  it has distinct Chinese characteristics and the characteristics of the times; ad represents the sustainable development direction of human rule of law civilization.

The Historical Logic to Interpreter the forming process of Xi Jinping’s Thought on the Rule of law

Recognizing the rule of law as the “basic strategy” for the Party to lead the people in governing the country is an important milestone in the history of the development of the socialist rule of law theory with Chinese characteristics.

The basic strategy of the Party leading the people to govern the country is an objective requirement for the development of the socialist market economy, an important symbol of social civilization and progress, and an important guarantee for the long-term stability of the country.

To build a socialist rule of law system with Chinese characteristics, the overall goal of socialist rule of law construction is to implement the Party’s leadership throughout the entire process of comprehensively advancing the rule of law.

The vitality of the law lies in its implementation, and the authority of the law lies in its implementation.

The general starting point for comprehensively promoting the rule of law, includes the formation of a complete legal norm system, an efficient legal enforcement system, a strict legal supervision system, a strong legal guarantee system, and a well-formed intra-Party regulatory system are the overall requirements of five aspects.

The full implementation of the Constitution is the primary task and basic work of building a socialist country under the rule of law. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out on January 7, 2014: “Strict, civilized and impartial law enforcement is a whole, and it is necessary to fully implement civilized and impartial law enforcement. Without strict law enforcement, it will be difficult to establish law enforcement credibility.” Because, in the end, fair justice ensures justice for the people!

Comprehensively promoting the rule of law is a systematic project

To meet the needs of reform and opening up and the continuous development of socialist modernization, the theory of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics has been continuously formed and gradually improved. The rule of law is the overall function of each component of the basic way of governing the country, and organically combining the rule of law with other governance methods to give play to the comprehensive governance capabilities of various governance means, constitutes the socialist rule of law theory with Chinese characteristics. The most important practical features are different from the Western capitalist theory of the rule of law.

In August  2018, General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that the comprehensive rule of law is a systematic project, which must be taken into account, grasp the key points, and plan as a whole, and pay more attention to systematization, integrity and, coordination. Governing the country according to law, ruling the society according to law, and administering according to law is an organic whole.

Finally, the judiciary system can truly play the role of the last line of defense in maintaining social fairness and justice. To that end in China, the Rule of Law is not only one value but also a policy to govern the country. Its construction is a systematic project and is being developed based on its own historical and social conditions. It has a strong subjectivity, which shows the nature of the subject who has the right to say the rule of law, and  Xi Jinping Thought on the Rule of Law adheres to the own path of the rule of law with Chinese Characteristic.

/Argumentum.al