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Sunday, August 07, 2005

Xinhua - English

Xinhua - EnglishRising power of China's top legislature 2005-08-06 21:53:25

 BEIJING, Aug. 6 (Xinhuanet by Xinhua Writer Meng Na) -- For decades, China's nearly 3,000 deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, were accustomed to "being busy only once in a year," that is when they meet in Beijing every March for a half-month full session to examine and vote to pass several government reports.

Nowadays, however, they have found themselves kept busy almost every day by an increasing number of legislative and investigative assignments.

Peng Zhenqiu, an NPC deputy from China's largest city Shanghai, has recently received a briefing on the latest 16th meeting of the 10th NPC Standing Committee, something he had never received before.

The NPC Standing Committee is the top executive organ of the NPC and takes charge of routine legislative work and law enforcement supervision.

The briefing informed Peng about the deliberation of several draft laws by members of the NPC Standing Committee at their week-long, bimonthly meeting, including the draft law on property rights, the draft law on women and children's rights protection, and the draft Law on penalties for offenses against public order.

"I am personally interested in the draft law on penalties for offenses against public order. In the following months, I will solicit public opinions and make some suggestions on the further revision of the draft law," said Peng.

In the past, China's legislative work mainly relied on the wisdom of the 200-strong members of the NPC Standing Committee, most of whom live in the national capital Beijing and can meet regularly and conveniently. The other NPC deputies, representing the country's 1.3 billion people and scattered in more than 30 provincial-level regions, only played a role in the enactment and amendment of major laws, such as the Constitution and the CriminalLaw, which must be deliberated and adopted at NPC annual full sessions.

As a result, the majority of the lawmakers often had a loose work schedule throughout the year, except for the half month when they meet in Beijing.

"I was elected a deputy to the NPC three years ago. But sometimes I got upset, because I had no opportunity to deepen my understanding of public worries and also had little idea what should be written into my proposals and motions presented to the annual full session," said Peng.

But over the past three years, things are gradually turning forthe better, he noted. The NPC Standing Committee started regularly sending him by mail some "reference materials," such as the annual governmental report, annual work reports of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, as well as the NPC's five-year legislation plan. Recently, briefings on the NPC Standing Committee meetings were also distributed.

"Reading and studying these materials has now become an important part of my work schedule. In addition, the NPC Standing Committee is also organizing regular inspection tours and field studies for the NPC deputies each year, to help them find out social problems and hear public opinion," Peng said.

Based on his gains from these activities, Peng has written 9 motions and 20 suggestions regarding the revision of the Corporation Law, the revision of the Securities Law and the enactment of the Social Security Law. All his motions and suggestions have been accepted by the NPC Standing Committee.

In June this year, Peng was even invited to participate in the 16th meeting of the NPC Standing Committee, as one of his motions "turned out very helpful" to the drafting of a law deliberated at the meeting.

"Attending the meeting of the NPC Standing Committee was a fresh experience to me and also enriched my work schedule. It offered me a good opportunity to express my views and make face-to-face communications with the senior lawmakers in the Standing Committee," said Peng.

Inviting the NPC deputies to attend the meetings of the NPC Standing Committee will help them play a more active role in the country's legislative work, said sources with the NPC Standing Committee.

As of April this year, the 10th NPC Standing Committee is inviting 24 NPC deputies from all over the country to attend each of its meetings, while previously only 12 deputies were invited every time, the sources added.

In June this year, a document on "further reinforcing the people's congress system" was issued by the Standing Committee of the NPC and the Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

The document pledged to organize more inspection tours and field studies for the NPC deputies and to allocate more fund from the central coffer for such tours and studies.

"I think my work schedule will get full in the future, as more visits and field studies are being arranged," said Peng.

Xie Qingkui, a professor with the Peking University, noted thatthe CPC Central Committee (CPC) had vowed to enhance the party's ruling capacity last year. To enhance the CPC's ruling capacity not only requires the party's members maintain their advanced nature, but also requires the further strengthening of the role ofthe people's congresses, said Xie.

"The changing schedule of the NPC deputies reflects that the Chinese legislature is assuming more importance and will have a bigger role to play in China's political life," Xie added. Enditem

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