Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Sunday, March 16, 2003

Professionals Take Lead Role at China's Top Legislative Body

The election of 19 professionals as members of the nation's top legislative body is set to enhance its lawmaking and supervisory capacity.


The election of 19 professionals as members of the nation's top legislative body is set to enhance its lawmaking and supervisory capacity.

The first session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) Saturday elected 159 deputies as members of its Standing Committee.

With an average age of 60 the new members are younger than their predecessors in the Ninth NPC Standing Committee whose members average age was 63.4, said NPC sources.

The spotlight has also been cast on the backgrounds of the 19 newly elected members and the role they may play in the top legislative body.

Some of these members are leaders in their professions and most have a legal background.

Legislator Xin Chunying deputy director of the Legal Studies Institution of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the nation's top think tank, is such an example. As is legislator Li Lianning, currently assistant to the Minister of Education, who holds a master's degree in civil law.

And He Yehui served in the country's top prosecutors' office before being elected onto the committee.

A number of them also have experience of studying overseas.

Legislator Zheng Quan is currently standing vice-president of the Western Returned Scholars Association, a non-governmental organization formed voluntarily by returned scholars from Europe, the United States and other countries.

Legislator Hou Yibin obtained his doctorate from Eindhoven University in the Netherlands and is now deputy president of Beijing University of Technology.

"The election of these members onto the NPC Standing Committee will help it work out laws that are more scientific and practical,'' said Xu Xianming, president of China University of Politics and Law.

He hailed it as a critical reform of the top legislative body in improving its personnel structure, which usually selected legislators from the ranks of officials soon to retire from their previously held government positions.

Xu was echoed by Wang Liming, deputy dean of the Law School of Renmin University of China.

"More professionals are needed in the country because lawmaking is becoming increasingly complicated and technical,'' Wang said.

He said that legislators are required to understand not only the domestic market development needs, but also the latest legal theories necessary to support domestic legislation.

Both Xu and Wang were in agreement that the wide range of expertise -- which include the sciences, economics and the arts -- possessed by the new members will help ensure that the legislature is much better placed when it comes to drawing up appropriate laws.

As a year-round acting body of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, the NPC Standing Committee is responsible for the major functions of lawmaking and supervising the work of the administrative and judicial departments.

Ying Songnian, professor and director of the Law Programme with the National School of Administration, said the legislators will find it easier to conduct their supervisory job given their familiarity with jurisprudence.

Congress observers believe that the practice of introducing more professional members will soon expand to local congresses if it proves effective at the national level.

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