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China vows to strengthen rule of law

China's Communist Party unveiled legal reforms on Thursday aimed at giving judges more independence and limiting local officials' influence over courts.

According to the communiqué, issued after the fourth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, the general aim will be to form a system serving "the socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics" and build a country under "the socialist rule of law." To realize this target, the leadership of the CPC must be upheld.

The meeting decided that the top court will initiate a pilot project to set up cross-administrative region courts and procuratorates. This is expected to prevent local government officials from interfering in judicial cases.

The statement also said that a mechanism will be established to recruit judges and prosecutors from qualified lawyers and legal experts.

This is the first time that a plenary session of the CPC Central Committee has taken the rule of law as its central theme. A total of 363 members and alternate members of the committee attended the meeting.

Ma Huaide, vicepresident of China University of Political Science and Law, said that under the current appraisal system many government officials make economic growth the top priority and neglect the implementationof the rule of law.

Research carried out by Ma last year found that only 36 of 53 cities sampled, including Beijing and Shanghai, reached the pass mark in an assessment of "governance by law".

None of the city authorities scored higher than 80 out of 100 points.

Lawsuits should be more transparent and the law enforcement process should be supervisedmore effectively, Ma said.

Since Xi Jinping took office in March 2013, the President, who has a doctorate in law, has vowed to put "power within the cage of regulations" and waged a war against corruption, winning over many ordinary Chinese people.

He has abolished the system of forced labour camps and called for judicial independence under the party.


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