Our Privacy Statement & Cookie Policy

By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies, revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can change your cookie settings through your browser.

I agree

From 1954 to 2024: How democracy and law-based governance in China work


Editor's note: China will hold its annual "Two Sessions" in early March. Ahead of this year's key political meetings, CGTN presents "A look at China during the Two Sessions," a special series that takes an in-depth look at the country's endeavors in promoting people's livelihood, rural revitalization, economic development, sci-tech innovation and opening up.

When Chinese lawmakers were revising the Law of the People's Republic of China on Protection of Minors in 2020, students from a high school in Shanghai joined the process and helped rewrite the law.

Li Junhao, a student at the High School Affiliated with East China University of Politics and Law in Hongqiao sub-district, voiced concerns about a provision imposing a fine on the guardians of minors if they fail in their duties.

Li said that if a minor came from a poor family, the fine would make the child's life more difficult. The lawmakers took his opinion seriously, conducted further research and adjusted the clause when the law revision was adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature.

What helped bring together the lawmakers in Beijing and the students in Shanghai was what is known as a "local legislative outreach office," which was set up by the NPC Standing Committee in 2015. Thanks to this mechanism, ordinary citizens can discuss draft laws and have their voices heard by lawmakers.

The first such grassroots contact station was set up in Hongqiao sub-district in Shanghai.

Public's participation in legislative activities

Acting as a direct link between ordinary people and China's top legislature, the establishment of such community-level contact stations is an important channel China has been practicing to guarantee the public's participation in legislative activities. People from all walks of life can come to their regional offices, share their ideas on legislative issues and get their voices heard by the lawmakers.

Through such stations, residents at the grassroots level can participate in the writing, research, revision, evaluation and post-assessment of draft laws in a convenient way.

Over the years, a three-tiered system of local legislative outreach offices was set up in China – at the national and provincial levels, and the level of cities with districts or autonomous prefectures.

In 2022, the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee established 10 more local legislative outreach offices in 10 provincial-level regions. Together with the 22 local legislative outreach offices already set up by the commission, the legislative outreach offices now cover all 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities on the Chinese mainland.

As of January 2023, a total of 509 outreach offices have been established at the provincial level and over 5,000 at the level of cities with districts or autonomous prefectures.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have solicited public opinions on 142 draft laws and legislative work plans through those stations between 2015 and 2022, receiving more than 15,000 suggestions, of which over 2,800 had been adopted,

"The grassroots-level legislation contact points are an important innovation in China's legislative mechanism and a 'bottom-up legislative fast-track' that gathers public opinion and wisdom... The opinions and suggestions from the grassroots are directly fed back to China's top legislature, which is a true reflection of the whole-process people's democracy," said Zhang Shuhua, director of the Institute of Political Science and director of the Center of Socialist Democracy Research at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Chinese people are masters of their country

There are more than 2.77 million deputies to people's congresses at all levels in China, including 2.62 million deputies at the county and township levels directly elected by the country's more than 1 billion voters. They have been exercising state power and turning the propositions of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the will of the people into the will of the state and collective action after going through legal procedures.

For instance, after learning that many elderly residents can't go out because their apartment buildings don't have elevators, Li Li, an NPC deputy who works in central China's Hubei Province, put forth a suggestion for measures, such as stronger financial support, to resolve the issue. It prompted the allocation of huge amounts of funds from the central budget to subsidize the renovation of old residences across the country, with 69,000 elevators newly installed.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, China has made remarkable achievements in pursuing the rule of law. A batch of laws urgently needed for the country's governance and satisfying the people's growing needs for a better life were introduced or revised.

The NPC and its Standing Committee have enacted 69 new laws and revised 237 laws in the past decade, with 292 laws coming into force, the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee announced in 2022.

Opinions from the public have been solicited on 217 draft laws over that period, and over 3.8 million suggestions have been collected from over 1.2 million people.

"Democracy is not a decorative ornament, but an instrument for addressing the issues that concern the people," said a white paper titled "China: Democracy That Works," issued by China's State Council Information Office in 2021. "The people's status as masters of the country is the essence of people's democracy," it added.

Search Trends