Speech at the Capital Conference Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Promulgation and Entry Into Force of the Current Constitution
On 4 December 1982, the 5th Meeting of the 5th National People’s Congress passed the “Constitution of the People’s Republic of China”. Already thirty years have passed since our country’s current constitution was promulgated and came into force. Today, we have ceremoniously gathered to commemorate this event, which has a major historical significance and real significance, which is the guarantee of the complete and effective implementation of the Constitution, and the promotion of the complete implementation of the spirit of the 18th Party Congress.
History can always bring profound enlightenment to people. Looking back at the development process of our country’s constitutional system, we feel ever more that our country’s Constitution is closely connected with the arduous struggle conducted by the Party and the people, and the glorious achievements that they have accomplished, and it is closely connected with the path forward opened up by the Party and the people, and the precious experiences that they have accumulated.
Our country’s current Constitution can be traced back to the “Common Programme of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference” that played the role of a provisional constitution, and the “Constitution of the People’s Republic of China” that was passed in 1954 at the first meeting of the first People’s Congress. These documents both have the form of the basic law of the country, they affirmed the heroic struggle of more than a century of modernity by the Chinese people against domestic and foreign enemies and for the independence of the nation and the freedom and happiness of the people, and affirmed the historical change of the Chinese Communist Party leading the people to seize victory in the New Democratic revolution, in which the Chinese people grasped State power.
In 1978, our Party convened the 3rd Plenum of the 11th Party Congress, which had a major historical significance, it heralded a new historical period of reform and opening up, and the development of Socialist democracy and the completion of a Socialist legal system became an unswerving basic policy of the Party and the country. It was at this meeting that Comrade Deng Xiaoping profoundly pointed out that: “In order to guarantee the people’s democracy, we must strengthen the legal system. We must ensure that democracy becomes institutionalized and legalized, and ensure that these institutions and laws do not change because leaders change, or that they do not change because the viewpoints and attention of leaders change”. On the basis of the line, principles and policies determined at the 3rd Plenum of the 11th Party Congress, summarizing both positive and negative experiences in our country’s Socialist construction, drawing profound and bitter lessons from the decade of the “Cultural Revolution”, learning from the successes and failures of global Socialism, adapting to the demands of our country’s reform, opening up and Socialist modernization construction, as well as strengthening the construction of a Socialist democratic legal system, we have formulated our country’s current Constitution. At the same time, the constitution can only have lasting vitality if it is incessantly adapted to new circumstances, takes in new experiences and recognizes new results. In 1988, 1993, 1999 and 2004, the NPC respectively made necessary and extremely important revisions to individual articles and a part of the content of our country’s Constitution, ensuring that our country’s Constitution, on the basis of maintaining stability and authority, follows in the footsteps of the progress of the age, and incessantly moves ahead with the times.
Our country’s Constitution takes the form of the basic law of the country, which established the development achievements of the path of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, the theoretical structure of Socialism with Chinese characteristics and the system of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, and reflected the common will and fundamental interest of the people of all ethnicities in our country, it became the highest reflection in the national legal system of the central work, basic principles, major guidelines and important policies of the Party and the country in a new historical period.
In thirty years, our country’s Constitution, its supreme position in the legal system and its strong legal force have powerfully guaranteed that the people are the masters of their own affairs, have powerfully stimulated reform, opening up and Socialist modernization construction, have powerfully promoted the process of Socialist rule of law, have powerfully stimulated the development of the cause of human rights, and have powerfully safeguarded national unity, ethnic unity and social stability, they have had an extremely profound influence on our country’s political, economic, cultural and social life.
The process of development of thirty years fully demonstrates that our country’s Constitution is a good constitution that conforms to our national conditions, conforms to reality and conforms to the development demands of the times, it is a good constitution that fully reflects the people’s common will, fully guarantee’s the people’s democratic rights, and fully safeguards the people’s fundamental interests, it is a good constitution that promotes the process of national development, guarantees the people’s creation of happy lives, and guarantees that the Chinese nation will realize its great rejuvenation, and it is the fundamental legal system guarantee for our country and people to undergo all sorts of difficulties, dangers and trials, and advance along the path of Socialism with Chinese characteristics from beginning to end.
When we go further back, and trace back the development process of our country’s constitutional system in the sixty years since the establishment of the New China, we can clearly see that the Constitution, the prospects of the country and the fate of the people are closely connected. Safeguarding the authority of the Constitution means safeguarding the authority of the common will of the Party and the people. Defending the dignity of the Constitution means defending the dignity of the common will of the Party and the people. Guaranteeing the implementation of the Constitution means guaranteeing the realization of the fundamental interests of the people. As long as we realistically respect and effectively implement the Constitution, will it be guaranteed that the people are masters of their own affairs, and will it be possible for the cause of the Party and the country to develop smoothly. Conversely, if the Constitution is ignored, weakened or even destroyed, it is impossible to guarantee the people’s rights and liberties, and the cause of the Party and the country will meet with setbacks. These precious enlightenments have been obtained through a long time of practice, and must be doubly cherished. We must even more consciously abide by the principles of the Constitution, carry forward the spirit of the Constitution, and implement the mission of the Constitution.
At the same time as fully affirming achievements, we must also look at shortcomings that exist, and which mainly manifest themselves as: the fact that supervisory mechanisms and concrete structures for supervising the implementation of the constitution are not yet complete, that the problems that there are laws that are not followed, law enforcement is not strict and law-breaking is not prosecuted still exist in a number of localities and departments; problems in law enforcement and the judiciary that relate to interests directly affecting the popular masses are still quite prominent; a number of civil servants abuse their power and position, neglect their duty or engage in malpractice, break the law in law enforcement and even bend the law for relatives and friends, gravely harming the authority of the State legal system; the constitutional consciousness of citizens, including a number of leading cadres, remains to be further raised. We must give these problems high importance, and realistically resolve them.
The 18th Party Congress stressed that ruling the country according to the law is the basic strategy of the Party’s leading the people in governing the country, the rule of law is the basic method to rule the country according to the law, and more attention must be paid to giving full rein to the important role of the rule of law in governing the country and managing society, completely move ruling the country according to the law forward and accelerate the construction of a Socialist rule of law country. To realize this objective, we must completely implement the Constitution.
Completely implementing the Constitution is the first task and basic work in building a Socialist rule of law country. The Constitution is the basic law of the country, it is the general charter to administer state affairs and ensure national security, it has the highest legal position, legal authority and legal effect, it has a fundamental nature, comprehensive nature, stable nature and long-term nature. The people of all ethnicities in the entire country, all State organs and armed forces, all political parties and social organizations, all enterprise and undertaking work units, must take the Constitution as the fundamental norm for action, and bear responsibility for safeguarding the dignity of the constitution and guaranteeing the implementation of the constitution. No organization or individual may have privileges that exceed the Constitution of the law. All acts violating the Constitution and the law must be punished.
The life of the Constitution lies in its interpretation, the authority of the Constitution also lies in its interpretation. We must unwaveringly persist in grasping the work to implement the Constitution, and raise the complete implementation of the Constitution to a new level.
First, persist in the correct political orientation, unwaveringly persist in marching the political development path of Socialism with Chinese characteristics. Since reform and opening up, our Party has made great progress in uniting and leading the people to develop Socialist democratic politics, it successfully opened up and persisted in the political development path of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, and determined the correct orientation for realizing the broadest popular democracy. The core ideology of this political development path, its central content and basic requirements have all been affirmed and reflected in the Constitution, their spiritual essences are closely connected, mutually linked and mutually stimulating. The basic systems and basic tasks of the country, the leading core and guiding ideology of the country, the national system of the people’s democratic dictatorship in which the working class leads and which is based on the alliance between workers and peasants, the political structure of the People’s Congress system, the multi-party cooperation and political consultative conference system under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, the ethnic autonomous region system as well as the grass roots mass autonomy system, the patriotic united front, the principles of the Socialist legal system, the principles of the democratic centralism system, the principles of respecting and guaranteeing human rights, etc., these systems and principles determined in the constitution are matters that we must persist in for the long-term, completely implement and incessantly develop.
The key to persist in the political development path of Socialism with Chinese characteristics is persisting in the organic unity of the leadership of the Party, the people mastering their own affairs and ruling the country according to the law, making guaranteeing the fact that the people master their own affairs into the basis, making strengthening the vitality of the Party and the country and mustering the vigour of the people into the objective, broadening Socialist democracy, and developing a Socialist political civilization. We must persist in the constitutional concept that all State power belongs to the people, mobilize and organize the people to the broadest extent, to exercise State power through People’s Congresses at all levels, to manage State and social affairs and manage economic and cultural matters through various channels and forms, construct together, enjoy together and develop together, and become the masters of the country, the society and their own fate. We must, according to the principle of democratic centralism and the principle of State power structures and activities determined in the Constitution, ensure that People’s Congresses uniformly exercise State power, ensure that policymaking power, implementation power and supervision power are both subject to rational division of work and are mutually coordinated, guarantee that State organs exercise their powers and carry out their duties according to their statutory competences and procedures, and guarantee that State organs uniformly and effectively organize undertakings in all areas. We must, on the basis of the structures and principles determined in the Constitution, correctly handle the relationship between the Centre and the localities, correctly handle the relationship between the ethnicities, correctly handle the relationships between interests on various sides, mobilize all positive factors, consolidate and develop a political picture of democratic unity, vigour and dynamism, stability and harmony. We must adapt to the new demands of broadening the people’s democracy and stimulating economic and social development, vigorously and reliably move political structural reform forward, develop an even broader, fuller and more complete people’s democracy, fully give rein to the superiority of out country’s Socialist political system, and incessantly move the self-perfection and development of Socialist political institutions forward.
Second, implement the basic strategy of ruling the country according to the law, and accelerate the construction of a Socialist rule of law country. The Constitution has determined the basic principles of the Socialist legal system, and has clearly provided that the People’s Republic of China implements ruling the country according to the law, that a Socialist rule of law country is to be built, and that the State safeguards the unity and dignity of the Socialist legal system. To implement the basic strategy of ruling the country according to the law and accelerate the construction of a Socialist rule of law country, we must comprehensively move the process of scientific legislation, strict law enforcement, fair administration of justice and the entire population abiding by the law forward.
We must make the Constitution into the highest legal norm, continue to perfect the legal system of Socialism with Chinese characteristics with the Constitution in command, bring all State affairs and all areas of work onto the tracks of the legal system, realize that there are laws to rely on, that laws must be relied on where they exist, that law enforcement must be strict and law-breaking must be prosecuted, safeguard social fairness and justice, realize the institutionalization and legalization of State and social life. The NPC and its Standing Committee must strengthen legislation in focus areas, expand channels for the people’s orderly participation in legislation, promote the implementation of the Constitution through perfect laws, and guarantee that the institutions and principles determined in the Constitution are implemented. The State Council, local People’s Congress with legislative powers and their Standing Committees must grasp the formulation and revision of administrative regulations and local regulations that supplement laws, guaranteeing that the Constitution and the laws are effectively implemented. All levels’ administrative State organs, judicial organs and prosecutorial organs must persist in administration according to the law and judicial fairness, accelerate moving the construction of rule of law government forward, and incessantly raise judicial credibility. The State Council and all local levels’ People’s Governments are the executive organs of organs of State power, as administrative State organs, they bear an important responsibility in strictly implementing the Constitution and the laws, government acts must be standardized, realistically ensuring strict standards, and fair and civilized law enforcement. We must deepen judicial structural reform, guarantee the fair and independent exercise of judicial power and prosecutorial power according to the law. The NPC, its Standing Committee and relevant State supervision organs must take responsibility for constitutional and legal supervision, strengthen supervision over and inspection of the implementation of the Constitution and the law, complete supervision mechanisms and procedures, and persist in rectifying acts violating the Constitution and the law. All local levels’ People’s Congresses and their Standing Committees must exercise their powers according to the law, and guarantee that the Constitution and the laws are respected and implemented in their administrative areas.
Third, persist in the dominant position of the people, realistically guarantee that the people enjoy rights and carry out their obligations. The basic rights and obligations of the people are the core content of the Constitution, the Constitution is the fundamental guarantee for every citizen to enjoy rights and carry out obligations. The basis of the Constitution lies in the people endorsing it from within their hearts, the majesty of the Constitution lies in the people’s sincere belief. Only by guaranteeing that citizens are equal before the law without exception, respecting and guaranteeing human rights, and guaranteeing that the people enjoy broad rights and liberties according to the law, is it possible for the Constitution to deeply enter people’s hearts and walk into the popular masses, and is it possible for implementing the Constitution to truly become a conscious act of the whole body of the people.
We must guarantee that the whole body of citizens enjoys broad rights according to the law, guarantee that citizens’ personal rights, property rights, basic political rights and all other rights are not infringed, guarantee that citizens’ economic social and other rights are implemented, strive to safeguard the fundamental interest of the broadest people, and guarantee the people’s aspiration and pursuit of beautiful lives. We must treat the popular masses’ appeals fairly and according to the law, and strive to let the popular masses feel fairness and justice in every judicial case, we can absolutely not let unfair judgments harm the feelings of the popular masses and damage the rights and interest of the popular masses. We must strengthen propaganda and education about the Constitution in the entire society, raise the constitutional consciousness and ideas about the legal consciousness of the whole body of the people and especially leading cadres at all levels and State organs’ work personnel, carry forward the spirit of Socialist rule of law, strive to foster a Socialist rule of law culture, let the Constitution be known to every household, and shape a good atmosphere to study the law, respect the law and abide by the law in the entire society. We must, through unwavering efforts, establish the authority of the Constitution and the laws n the entire society, let the broad popular masses fully believe in the law and consciously use the law, ensure that the broad popular masses understand that the Constitution is not only a norm for action that the whole body of citizens must respect, but is also a legal arm to guarantee citizens’ rights. We must make education about the Constitution into an important content of Party member and cadre education, ensure that all levels’ leading cadres and State organs’ work personnel grasp a basic understanding of the Constitution, and establish a conscious mentality of loyalty to the Constitution, respect for the Constitution and upholding the constitution. The law is written morality, morality is the law in our hearts. We must persist in integrating ruling the country according to the law with ruling the country according to morality, give high regard to the normative role of morality in people’s activities, guide citizens to both safeguard their lawful rights and interests according to the law, and consciously carry out their statutory obligations, ensuring consistency between enjoying rights and carrying out obligations.
Fourth, persist in the leadership of the Party, pay even more attention to improving the Party’s leadership methods and governance methods. To rule the country according to the law, we must first and foremost rule the country according to the Constitution; to govern according to the law, governing according to the Constitution is crucial. Under new circumstances, our Party must carry out its major duties of governance and rejuvenating the country well, the Party must be strictly governed according to the Party Constitution, and the country must be ruled according to the Constitution. The Party led the people in formulating the Constitution and the laws, the Party leads the people in implementing the Constitution and the laws, the Party must itself act within the scope of the Constitution and the law, truly achieving that the Party leads legislation, guarantees law enforcement, and takes the lead in abiding by the law.
We must persist in the core leading role of the Party, which assumes responsibility for the entire picture and coordinates al aspects, persist in the basic strategy of governing the country according to the law and the basic method of holding power according to the law, be good at ensuring that the Party’s standpoints become the will of the nation through legal procedures, be good at ensuring that the candidates recommended by Party organizations become leading persons in organs of State power, be good at implementing Party leadership over the country and society through the organs of State power, persist in the fact that organs of State power, administrative organs, judicial organs and prosecutorial organs bear independent responsibility according to the Constitution and the law, and launch their work in a coordinated and consistent manner. All levels’ Party organizations and leading Party cadres must take the lead in rigorously enforcing the rule of law, incessantly raise their ability for and level of administration according to the law, and incessantly enhance the institutionalization and legalization of all sorts of activities of administration and governance. All levels’ leading cadres must raise their ability to use rule of law thinking and rule of law methods to deepen reform, promote development, dissolve contradictions and maintain stability, strive to promote the formation of a good rule of law environment in which affairs are handled according to the law, the law is sought when problems are encountered, the law is used to resolve problems, and the law is relied upon in resolving contradictions, and promote all areas of work to proceed along the tracks of rule of law. We must complete systems to restrain and supervise the use of power, those having power must have responsibility, the use of power must be supervised, neglect of duty must lead to accountability, and violations of the law must be prosecuted, guaranteeing that the power endowed by the people is used for the interest of the people throughout.
The people of all ethnicities in the entire Party and the entire country must closely unite around the Party Centre, hold high the magnificent banner of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, persist in taking Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important “Three Represents” thought and the scientific development view as guidance, persist in jointly moving ahead with governing the country according to the law, holding power according to the law and running the administration according to the law, persist in the integrated construction of a rule of law country, rule of law government and rule of law society, firmly implement the spirit of the 18th Party Congress in all areas of work, and struggle valiantly for the comprehensive construction of a moderately prosperous society and the beginning of a new dimension for the undertaking of Socialism with Chinese characteristics!