Archive for January, 2021

Monday, January 18, 2021

Zang Tiewei: “The Masses’ Opinions, reflected in National Legislation” since 1954

The following are excerpts from a long China News Service (CNS) interview with “National People’s Congress'” Standing Committee spokesman Zang Tiewei (臧铁伟).

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

“Authoritative answers” (权威回应)

Main link: How does the voice of the people enter national legislation?

[…]

Q: The 13th National People’s Congress’ fourth session will be held in March this year. It will review the outline draft for the 14th five-year plan. We have noticed that in the previous outline draft’s “pooling wisdom” section, the masses’ suggestions were directly absorbed into the draft. We believe there are many such cases. Are there any that impressed you deeply?

中新社记者:十三届全国人大四次会议将于今年3月举行,审议“十四五”规划纲要草案。我们注意到,在此前纲要草案的“开门问策”中,有普通民众的建议,直接被吸收到了草案当中。相信在我们立法过程中,这样的事例也有很多,有没有让您印象深刻的案例?

A: Of course there are. In my legislative work which I have been doing for almost 30 years, there are some cases that impressed me very deeply. The masses’ opinions concerning legislation are reflected in legislative organs’ channels without any impediment. The masses’ opinions are accepted and absorbed into the legislative drafts. That happens frequently. It’s something very normal.

臧铁伟:当然有。我从事立法工作将近30年,有几个事例让我印象非常深刻。普通民众对于立法的意见,反映到立法工作机关的渠道是非常畅通的;普通民众的意见被采纳和吸收到法律草案中,也是经常发生、非常正常的一个事情。

There are mainly two channels to which the masses reflect their opinions. The first one is that drafts are publicly addressed to society to seek input. The first legislation the public’s input was sought was for the constitutional draft in 1954. At that time, the scale of that request for society’s input was very big, and it managed to really orderly let everyone from the peasants in rural areas to the workers in the factories and workshops hear the legislative draft. Since then, the seeking of the entire society’s input has gone through a process of sixty years. It should be said that this is an important way for the masses to participate in legislation.

民众向立法机关反映意见,主要有两个渠道。第一个渠道,法律草案公开向社会征求意见。中国最早一部公开向社会征求意见的法律是1954年的宪法草案,当时向社会征求意见的规模非常大,真真正正做到了从田间地头的农民到工厂车间的工人都能听到这部法律草案。从那时起到现在,法律草案征求全社会意见已经经历了60多年的历程。应当说这是人民群众参与立法的一个重要途径。

For example, as for the civil code which is just being put into practice, in the process of its compilation, has sought opinions from the entire society ten times, with more than one million articles, all of which have been sorted out and studied by the legislative organs’ staff.

比如说刚刚施行的民法典,它在编纂的过程中,先后十次向全社会公开征求意见,有100多万条,每一条意见立法机关的工作人员都进行了梳理和研究。

The second main way goes through the legislative working committee’s contact point. In 2015 and 2020, the legislative working committee has thoroughly implemented the spirit of secretary general Xi Jinping’s instructions and the spirit of the central committee’s fourth plenary session, has established ten legislative contact points nationwide twice, nine of which were grassroot legislative contact points, and one of which was for universities. This truly extends the “eyes” and “ears” of legislative work directly to the rural areas and the factories and workshops, schools, communities [neighborhoods], so that we can directly listen to and gather opinions from the grassroot levels’ front line units and the cadres’ and masses’ opinions about the legislative draft.

第二个主要的途径,是通过法工委的立法联系点。法工委在2015年和2020年,贯彻落实习近平总书记指示精神和党的十八届四中全会精神,先后两次在全国范围内建立了十个立法联系点,九个是基层立法联系点、一个是高校。它确实可以让立法工作机构的“眼睛”和“耳朵”直接延伸到田间地头、工厂车间、学校、社区,能直接听取基层一线的单位和干部群众对法律草案的意见。

Over the past five years to date, we have received more than 4,000 opinions concerning more than 80 legislative drafts and legislative plans, by seeking opinions through the grassroots legislative contact points. Among these, many have been adopted into legislative drafts. It should be said that this has been very helpful to improve the quality of legislation.

迄今5年多来,我们先后就80多部法律草案和立法计划,向基层立法联系点征求意见,收到了4000多条意见,其中很多都在法律草案中予以采纳。应当说对于提高立法的质量非常有帮助。

When the Law on the Protection of Minors (revision draft) was given to the legislative contact points to seek opinions, a group of students from a middle school belonging to the East China University of Political Science and Law put forward many amendment proposals to the Law on the Protection of Minors (revision draft) to Hongqiao legislative contact point, including the issue of extracurricular tuition classes, the issue of teachers authority to discipline, how to prevent minors to get deeply addicted to the internet, and the issue of domestic violence.

在2020年未成年人保护法(修订)向立法联系点征求意见的时候,上海华东政法大学附属中学的一群中学生,向虹桥立法联系点提出了许多对未成年人保护法(修订)草案的修改意见,包括课外补习班的问题、教师惩戒权的问题、如何预防青少年沉迷网络的问题、家庭暴力的问题。

After the opinions put forward by these students had been reflected to the Hongqiao legislative contact point working organs, we researched the articles one by one and adopted some into the final legislative drafts. With regards to this, the legislative working committee especially sent a thank-you letter to the East China University of Political Science and Law’s middle school, thanking them for their participation and support in the legislative work.

这些学生提出的意见经过虹桥立法联系点反馈到立法工作机构之后,我们逐条进行了研究,有一些采纳到了最终通过的法律案中。为此,法制工作委员会还特意给华东附中去了一封感谢信,感谢他们对立法工作的参与和支持。

Apart from these two major channels, there are still many other ways. Citizens may write letters, faxes, make a phonecall, and some expert scholars even give their opinions right at the legislative organs. All these channels can be used without impediment.

除了这两种主要的途径之外,还有许多的途径,公民可以通过比如写信、来传真、打电话,甚至有些专家学者当面到立法机关反映意见,这些渠道都是畅通的。

I can give you another example here. A letter without characters on it. There was one concerning the property law draft without any characters. When this letter was opened by our staff, there were no characters, only numerous densely packed dots. Afterwards, everyone guessed that this was probably a letter using Braille. So they took the letter without characters to the China Disabled Persons’ Federation to ask their help. The China Disabled Persons’ Federation also supported us very much, organizing several Braille experts to translate it on the same day, and it was indeed a Braille letter with an opinion concerning the legislative draft. We also carried out research of this opinion. Later, we heard that this had been someone who suffered from impaired vision in Shandong who wrote this letter in Braille.

这里我还可以再举一个例子——一封没有字的信。群众关于法律草案(物权法草案)提出的意见是一封没有字的信。这封信到了立法机关之后,我们的工作人员拆开一看,没有一个字,只有密密麻麻的针眼。后来大家猜测说这很有可能是一封用盲文写成的信,我们的同事就专门拿着这封没有一个字的信到中国残联求助。中国残联也对我们非常支持,组织了几位盲文专家当天就翻译出来了,确实是用盲文对法律草案提出的意见。我们对每条意见又进行了研究和梳理。后来了解到是山东的一位视力障碍患者,用盲文给立法工作机构写的这封信。

Our students and our patients can all freely express their opinion concerning legislative work and legislative drafts, and every article of their opinion must be conscientiously researched and sorted out by our staff. It can be clearly seen that ordinary masses’ rights to participate in legislative work is fully guaranteed.

我们的学生、我们的患者都可以自由表达他们对立法工作、对法律草案的意见,而且每一条意见我们工作人员必定是认真地研究和梳理过的。可见,普通民众参与立法工作的权利是得到充分保障的。

[…]

Q: We have noticed that in recent years, the US Senate and House of Representatives have often insisted on launching so-called legislative drafts despite the Chinese side’s warnings, cruelly interfering in China’s internal affairs. You and the National People’s Congress foreign affairs committee spokesperson have published statements many times concerning these matters, expressing strong opposition. May I ask, will our legislative organs also take reciprocal and efficient measures to this, to contain this kind of behavior?

中新社记者:我们注意到,近些年,美国国会参众两院经常不顾中方警告,执意出台所谓法案,从法律的角度粗暴干涉中国内政,您和全国人大外事委员会发言人也多次就此发表谈话,表示强烈反对。请问未来,我们的立法机关是否也会有对等的有效措施,对此类行为进行反制?

A: In recent years, the two American chambers, the US Senate and Congress, have launched many anti-China motions, cruelly interfering in China’s internal affairs, especially on last year’s December 8, when US Congress, because of its opposition against the National People’s Congress’ Standing Commission’s adoption of the Hong Kong national security law and its decision on Hong Kong SAR Legislative Council qualifications issue, surprisingly adopted so-called sanctions against the leaders of China’s National People’s Congress. This is an undisguised and despicable behavior, to use the Hong Kong issue to interfere with China’s internal affairs. The National People’s Congress Standing Commission spokesperson also issued a statement on December 9, strongly condemning this, and expressing firm opposition.

臧铁伟:近年来美国参众两院出台了多项反华议案,粗暴干涉中国内政,尤其是去年的12月8日,美国国会因为反对中国全国人大及其常委会通过的香港国安法和关于香港特别行政区立法会议员资格问题的决定,竟然针对中国全国人大常委会领导作出所谓的制裁,这是公然借香港问题干涉中国内政的卑劣行径。全国人大常委会发言人也于12月9日发表了谈话,对此予以强烈谴责,表示坚决反对。

We have been consistent in opposing foreign and off-borders forces interfering with China’s internal affairs by whatever means, and we will, just as we have in the past, resolutely fulfill our rightful duties, protect national security, sovereignty, and development interests. Of course, we will also watch the situation and take reciprocal countermeasures. As has been seen, given that the American side has used Hong Kong’s affairs to cruelly interfere with China’s internal affairs and to harm China’s core interests, we have decided to take reciprocal countermeasures against US State Department officials, members of Congress and related NGO people who have shown bad behavior on the Hong Kong issue, and on their closest relatives. We have also cancelled visa-free treatment for visits by holders of American holders of special diplomatic passports.

我们一贯反对外国和境外的势力以任何方式干涉中国内政,我们将一如既往地坚定履行我们的法定职责,维护国家安全、主权和发展利益。当然,我们也会视情况采取对等的反制措施。正如大家已经关注到,鉴于美方借香港事务粗暴干涉中国内政、损害中国核心利益,我们决定对在香港问题上表现恶劣、负有主要责任的美国国务院官员、议会人员和有关非政府组织人员及其他们的直系亲属采取对等反制措施,并且取消美国持外交护照人员临时访问香港和澳门的免签待遇。

[…]

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Before you define your next China policy, learn from Lu Xun

Chinese nationalism has had its share of wishful thinking. But in recent decades, the West has fallen into similar traps, although its humiliations – the 2008 financial crisis and the flat-footed reaction of most Western countries to the Covid-19 pandemic – have been comparatively minor humiliations.

True story

But humiliations they have been, and nothing shows this more clearly than the way some of the West’s governments have reacted to China’s handling of the pandemic. To quote one of the more civil criticisms  – by Iain Duncan Smith, a former leader of the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party -, “the world would have had more time to prepare for the pandemic if Chinese leaders had been more forthcoming”. No worries, though, he switched into another gear right away:

For too long, nations have lamely kowtowed to China in the desperate hope of winning trade deals. Once we get clear of this terrible pandemic it is imperative that we all rethink that relationship,” he said.

Politics, that much is true, must never let a crisis go waste, and there are reasons to “rethink” the West’s, and possibly the world’s, relationship with China.

But China only bears a limited share of responsibility for this global crisis. If people in the West don’t understand that, they don’t understand their own political class.

We don’t need to reconsider our relationship with China because its role in the pandemic was questionable.

We must reconsider our relationship with China because we must not tolerate the way Chinese authorities treat Chinese citizens. Human rights violations often hit “national minorities” like Tibetans or Uyghurs hardest, but the political malpractice doesn’t stop there.

We must reconsider our relationship with China because in Hong Kong, Beijing has shown complete disregard for the rule of law, within Hong Kong’s autonomy (that’s nothing new, China has never understood the concept of autonomy anyway), and complete disregard of international law.

We must reconsider our relationship with China because in the South China Sea and other international waters, China has adopted a policy of annexation.

And we must reconsider our relationship with China, because with his “Resist America, Aid Korea” speech in October, Chinese CPC secretary general and state chairman Xi Jinping has made China’s disregard for international law official, by suggesting that Maoist China’s war against the United Nations had been a “war against imperialism”.

There may be some reason to believe that many within the CPC believe that the speech has been a non-starter, because they haven’t dwelled too much on it in the media since, and because the faces of many of the leaders during Xi’s speech appeared to speak volumes. But there is no reason to believe that Xi’s speech wasn’t an honest attempt at rewriting history, at the expense of truth. This attempt must be taken seriously.

All that said, when reconsidering our relationship with China, we must not walk into the Ah-Q trap. This is something we might learn from China indeed: the way Chinese intellectuals used to be self-critical was part of China’s more recent successes, just as China’s more recent pompousness and triumphalism may earn it serious setbacks.

The same is true for us, and especially for those who consider themselves our “elites”. For decades, China has been described as an opportunity too big to miss, and to justify throwing valuable Western-made technology at it. To make this foreign-trade salad more palatable to the general public (and arguably also to the propagandists themselves), China-trade advocates added that trade and engagement with China would lead to improvements in the country’s human rights practice, or its economic and social system.

“The party is over,” a long-forgotten “expert” crowed in the 1990s, in a huge, long-forgotten book. Others suggested that the CPC might become a “social-democratic” party. But nobody seemed to ask the CPC people if they had any such intentions, at least not seriously. And if they did, they only heard the answers they wanted to hear.

There was never a doubt that China’s political system is a dictatorship. And when that dictatorship began to succeed economically and technogically, quite a number of Western intellectuals, and especially business people, began to admire that dictatorship:

I have fantasized–don’t get me wrong–but that what if we could just be China for a day? I mean, just, just, just one day. You know, I mean, where we could actually, you know, authorize the right solutions, and I do think there is a sense of that, on, on everything from the economy to environment. I don’t want to be China for a second, OK, I want my democracy to work with the same authority, focus and stick-to-itiveness. But right now we have a system that can only produce suboptimal solutions.

Don’t get me wrong either. I don’t think Thomas Friedman argued in favor of the introduction of authoritarianism, let alone totalitarianism. But he didn’t apply any logic – and he’s no exception among Western intellectuals. He’s full of ideas and without a plan when it comes to these issues.

Because if we could be China for one day, we could be China every day. And then we would be the kind of society that we now want to reconsider our relationship with. (OK, maybe not Friedman.)

But the worst thing is to think of ourselves as Santa. The guys who only want the best for China, etc.. I’m pretty sure that half of my fellow Germans, in as far as they have misgivings about China, don’t worry about China’s human rights record. They worry about its economic clout, and the preparedness of a lot of Chinese people to work harder, for less income, then we would.

That’s legitimate self-interest, but nobody should confuse this interest with something like international solidarity. To do that, to suggest that “we are nice, we are generous, we’ve done everything for them, and they are bloody ingrats” is typical Ah-Q thought.

No, guys. Our bosses threw our technology at China, technology developed with support of public institutions we paid our taxes for. That’s what our bosses usually do. Sometimes at the Chinese, sometimes at other promising markets. But as our bosses’ greed for profits from China knew no limits, they fooled themselves, too. Occasionally, they complained once it went wrong. But this wasn’t “Chinese” greed – they only picked up what was thrown at them. And even if they never told us that they would make good use of it, with or against the law, daily practice could have shown us in a year that this transactional model wouldn’t work – at least not for the West.

China – not just the CPC, but most of the Chinese people – have always told us that their rightful global place was at the pole position.

They have always told us that they would “re-take” Taiwan, once they had the power to do so.

Every bloke in the street told us that Hong Kong was no stuff to negotiate about – it had been taken by the imperialists, and had to be retaken by China. Besides, those Hong Kongers shouldn’t think of themselves as “special”. Yadayada.

We played along, one year after another. We still do. I’m afraid we’ll continue to do so. Our governments, for example, keep participating in the diplomatic charade to this day that, for some incomprehensible reasons (depending on what individual Western nation’s memoranda with Beijing have made up out of thin air), Taiwan wouldn’t be quite a sovereign country.

In short: it was hard to get China wrong, but we managed anyway. And if we don’t stop suggesting that our intentions in this relationship had always been honest, we won’t get our next China policy right either.

To reshape our relationship with China, let’s learn from Lu Xun first.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Huanqiu Shibao: “Strike the iron while it is hot, Reinforce China’s political self-confidence”

The following are translated excerpts from an unsigned editorial by Huanqiu Shibao. The article was published online on Sunday. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Main link:
To take a turn for the better, 2021 will require hard work (2021,好转需经艰苦努力才会发生)

[…]

This year, China has ample capital to continue [the process of] becoming the most outstanding country with its successes in fighting the epidemic and in transforming these achievements into fruits of economic development. To accelerate the expansion of domestic markets, to promote the formation of the dual-circulation pattern and its consolidation is crucial, because the trade wars of the past few years have told us that relying on the international markets alone is highly problematic and the political risks of it are growing. Domestic markets that balance and mutually support each other have become the road to follow.

今年中国有充足资本继续成为抗疫成就最突出的国家,并且将这一成就朝着经济发展的成果转化。加快扩大国内市场、促进双循环格局的形成和巩固至关重要,因为过去几年的贸易战已经告诉我们,仅靠扩大国际市场既困难重重,而且其政治风险也越来越高,国内和国际市场的平衡及相互促进已是必由之路。

Even if the global economy shows some recovery in the new year, it will be weak, and if China’s share in this year’s international recovery is disproportionally high, it will cause more jealousy, and this is something we have to be aware of.

全球经济在新的一年里即使有所恢复,也会是微弱的,如果中国今年的经济增长占据过大国际经济恢复的份额,将会引来更多妒忌,这方面的意识我们切不可缺失。

China’s leadership in controlling the epidemic has provided us with a huge comparative advantage over other major countries, and this summary rather belongs to history. As far as China’s society itself is concerned, especially as far as many individuals are concerned, the impact and challenges the coronavirus epidemic has brought about are more real, and China’s policies of this year must address these practical problems, and they must not lower their problem-solving qualities because of the epidemic.

中国率先控制住疫情,这提供了我们相对其他主要国家的巨大比较优势,但这是一笔国家的宏观账,这份总结更多属于历史。就中国社会自身来说,尤其是对很多个人来说,新冠疫情带来的冲击和困难更为真实,今年中国的各项政策仍需针对这些实际问题,不因疫情降低解决它们的质量。

One of the biggest earnings for China’s society in 2020 is the increase in political self-confidence. The epidemic has provided the Chinese people with a rare glimpse on the efficiency of China’s political system and its people-centered objective. America’s idolistic effect has basically collapsed. But one year is too short. Chinese society’s political self-confidence must be reinforced by striking the iron while it is hot. This year is a critical period during which the Chinese people’s self-acknowledgment of last year must go on.

2020年中国社会最大的收获之一是增加了政治自信,国人通过这场疫情提供的罕见可比性看到了中国政治体制的效率,读懂了它以人民为中心的宗旨,美国的长期偶像效应基本垮掉了。然而一年的时间太短了,中国社会的政治自信需要趁热打铁地加固,今年是延续中国人去年自我认知的关键时期。

[…]

It won’t be easy to make China take another step forward while giving the masses another experience of improvement at the same time, but it deserves China’s efforts. Objectively speaking, the number of Chinese people who have suffered losses in 2020 hasn’t been small, and 2021 must allow this great number of people to “turn losses into gains”, and turn China’s victory into a common triumphal hymn for all the people.

要让国家往前再迈一步与人民群众的收获体验再获改善同时发生,这非常不易,但却是值得中国2021年跳跳脚争取摸到的。客观说,2020年受了损失的中国人还是不少的,2021年要让那些绝大多数个人也都“扭亏为盈”,让中国的胜利成为真正全体国民的共同凯歌。

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Related

A test for our Governance System, Jan 24, 2020
Frugal new year, Febr 10, 2018

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