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Home > Ambassador Liu > Remarks > 2015
Rule of Law –'Shining Over China'
Speech by H E Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Dinner Hosted by Linklaters
2015/05/14

(St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London, 13 May 2015)

Mr. Simon Davies,

Business and Financial Leaders,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

This is a special evening. I was fascinated to see the largest exhibition ever staged about the world-famous Magna Carta document. I wish to congratulate Linklaters for sponsoring this inspired exhibition at the British Library.

I am most grateful to Linklaters for the invitation to view the exhibition and then inviting me to join you for dinner.

This was my second time to view Magna Carta close up. Last summer, I visited Salisbury Cathedral. I was there to pay tribute to the late Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath who had a home close by. Afterwards I viewed one of the original Magna Carta kept in the cathedral.

Today on display at the British Library are two of the four original 1215 Magna Carta and the original copies of the American Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Seeing these side by side is indeed very special as these documents have had a profound impact in shaping the world history.

This 800-year-old Magna Carta is highly significant in British history, both politically and legally. Many believe Magna Carta to have had a big impact on the American Declaration of Independence.

In terms of legal significance, Magna Carta's most far reaching impact is the establishment of the principle that no one shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Magna Carta marked the earliest practice of rule of law in Britain.

Rule of law is not an exclusively British or western idea. China is known for having a long history of legal practice and principles.

2,000 years ago, China had its own complete system of written code of law. The Chinese have always believed in these principles:

l "Good governance begins with enforcing the law"

l And "all are judged by law" - not by wealth or status.

However, in thousands of years of Chinese history, rule of man often prevailed while rule of law was subject to restrictions or disruptions of various sorts.

Today, the Communist Party of China, or CPC, takes the rule of law as a paramount principle of importance. That is exactly why the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, convened at the end of last year, was especially important. That meeting came to a series of major decisions on comprehensive advancement of the rule of law in China. That meeting was nothing short of a milestone in the history of establishing the rule of law in China.

This evening our thoughts are very much focused on Magna Carta. Another historical significance of Magna Carta is that it was the first to provide for restrictions on the power of monarchs. That had a profound impact on the evolution of the British political system over hundreds of years. The pattern of influence of Magna Carta is perhaps the most fascinating part of the evolution of British history.

Today, Magna Carta remains the cornerstone of the British constitutional monarchy. It is also fascinating to observe how the unique experience of Britain following incremental reform has not been replicated elsewhere in the world.

Likewise, China's path in modern times has also been unique. During the past century, numerous Chinese pioneers have made painstaking efforts in search of a political system suited to the Chinese people. China experimented with a number of solutions – from constitutional monarchy to parliamentary, multi-party and presidential systems. At one time, autocratic rule was restored. When it became clear that none of these worked, the people of China chose the Communist Party and founded a new China.

After sixty-five years, under the leadership of the CPC, the once weak, poor, semi-feudal and semi-colonial country has been transformed. No country in history has industrialised at such a scale and speed. The outcome is a China that is now a major and prosperous developing power. It is not only the world's second biggest economy - China is also the largest trading nation and third largest investor in FDI. China's development has not only benefited the Chinese people but also brought many opportunities to the world.

With evolution of the rule of law the British and Chinese experience proves these principles:

l A country always relies on its own trial and error as it explores a path of development.

l Each nation shapes a social system that suits its reality.

After sixty-five years, how will the CPC promote rule of law today?

Some people in the West, intentionally or unintentionally, always see the leadership of CPC and good governance with rule of law as a contradiction.

For those that approach China with an open and fair mind they can observe interesting parallels between other nations, the UK and China.

Let us first take a look at how political parties work in the West. In the UK, for example, the government formed by the ruling party is empowered to make proposals on legislation. When a bill passes the Parliament and becomes law, it will be binding for the ruling party and the government.

It is the same in China. To enforce rule of law in China, a strong leadership is needed – a leadership that has the overall picture in mind and is capable of rallying various groups. This historic mission is now on the shoulders of the CPC and the government under its leadership.

The CPC will lead, and it must lead within the framework of the Constitution and laws. Neither the party's policy nor any party organisation or individual is above the law. Party members, rank and file, are subject to the same scrutiny and punishment in case of offences.

Over the past year, a large number of 'tigers' as well as 'flies' have been dealt with according to Party discipline and brought to justice. It is a clear demonstration that the CPC respects and abides by the law.

The Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee has made clear-cut plans for advancing the rule of law in China. These measures include:

l To improve a socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics centered around the Constitution, and to strengthen the implementation of the Constitution.

l To ensure law-based administration and to put government under the rule of law.

l To safeguard judicial justice and to strengthen judicial credibility.

l And to promote the public awareness of the rule of law and to enhance the building of a law-based society

China will also improve laws and regulations with regard to foreign businesses in order to facilitate further opening-up. This will also advance and build a new system of an open economy.

Those who study the history of China will know that it has a consistent pattern of absorbing ideas from outside its borders. So it should not surprise that China will learn from countries, like Britain, to improve our rule of law.

It is just a little over half a year since the important meeting of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee. Yet China has accelerated the advancement of rule of law and reform. There has been tangible progress:

l The Supreme Court has created the first Circuit Courts, the first IPR courts, and courts with trans-regional jurisdiction.

l The People's Courts have adopted a case-filing registration system.

l The litigation process now focuses on courtroom hearings.

l A lifelong accountability system to guarantee prudent handling of cases and a system to retrospectively hold judges accountable for erroneous rulings have been adopted.

These judicial reform measures are aimed at strengthening judicial credibility. They suit China's national condition and are in line with general judicial practice.

Seventy years ago, a book published in Britain became a global sensation. This was Edgar Snow's Red Star over China – an account of his visit to the revolutionary base in China. Its investigative reporting about the CPC and China's revolution attracted world attention. The book was regarded as an influential masterpiece and a milestone marking the beginning of a new era of western understanding of China.

Many extraordinary events have unfolded in China since Red Star over China was published seventy years ago.

Today, the CPC is leading the country in a grand project called the 'Chinese Dream'. To accomplish this project, China will strive to advance the rule of law and enforce stricter Party discipline. At the same time China will build moderate prosperity and deepen reforms.

So, the 'red star' is still shining over China!

And in this new chapter of Chinese dream - the rule of law will 'shine over China.'

Thank you!

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