II. Citizens' Democratic Rights

While developing its economy, China has made energetic efforts to promote the building of a socialist democratic and political system, consolidated and perfected the people's congress system and the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, and improved democracy at grass-roots units, thus further guaranteeing citizens' democratic rights.

The people's congress system serves as China's fundamental political system. The National People's Congress (NPC), the supreme state power organ, decides fundamental state policies and principles, and formulates basic national laws. In 1996, the NPC heard and deliberated the work reports of the State Council, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate; and examined and approved the Ninth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and the Outline for the Long-Range Objective Through the Year 2010. It also deliberated and adopted 20 laws and decisions concerning legal issues, and strengthened legal protection of citizens' rights. In the meantime, the NPC has tight"iened inspection of and supervision over law enforcement. To date, the Eighth NPC Standing Committee has inspected the enforcement of 17 laws. Various special NPC committees have examined the implementation of 13 laws. In 1996, led by eight vice-chairmen of the NPC Standing Committee, 21 law-enforcement inspection groups were organized to tour the country to supervise and inspect the enforcement of laws, including the Agriculture Law, the Education Law, the Environmental Protection Law, the Labor Law and the Decision on Strengthening Comprehensive Management of Social Security, thus playing a supervisory role in implementing relevant laws. The NPC pays close attention to safeguarding the rights of its deputies, and earnestly and promptly handles proposals and suggestions made by its deputies. During the Fifth Session of the Eighth NPC held in 1997, 700 motions proposed by the deputies were received, 140 of which were submitted to relevant special committees for examination in accordance with the decision of the session's presidium. The other 560 motions and the 1,289 proposals and suggestions made by the deputies were submitted to relevant departments and units, which are responsible for replying to the deputies.

The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation led by the Chinese Communist Party is an important component of China's democratic and political system. Various non-Communist parties and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) organizations are playing an increasingly important role in political consultation, democratic supervision and the participation in and deliberation of state affairs. From the Fourth Plenum of the 13th Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, which was held in 1989, to the end of 1996, the Party Central Committee conducted more than 100 consultative activities of various forms on various fundamental state policies and principles, on the candidates for state leaders, and on various important policy decisions, laws and regulations with the central committees of various non-Communist parties, the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce and personages without party affiliation. In 1996, 41 investigation reports or proposals were made by the CPPCC National Committee on implementing the fundamental policies and principles for the Ninth Five-Year Plan, reducing farmers' financial burdens, developing animal husbandry on grasslands, reforming public health undertakings, and promoting ethical and cultural progress and the building of democracy and a legal system. The reports and proposals were adopted either by the Party Central Committee or the State Council in formulating relevant policies and regulations. Meanwhile, the CPPCC National Committee took effective steps to do a better job of putting forward proposals and actively reflect social conditions and popular feelings. Members of the CPPCC National Committee have actively aired views and offered advices, and increased the number of their proposals year by year, from 1,900 during the First Session of the Eighth CPPCC National Committee to 2,426 during the Committee's Fifth Session. Within this period, more than 10,000 proposals were put forth. During the Fourth Session of the Eighth CPPCC National Committee, members put forward 2,380 proposals. By February 14, 1997, 2,334 proposals had been handled, or 98.1 percent of the total. Of those handled, 1,937 proposals, or 83 percent of the total, have been solved or will be solved according to plan. With regard to the problems that cannot be solved promptly because of constraints, various executive units have offered explanations.

China has made vigorous efforts to promote the building of democracy in grass-roots units in urban and rural areas to guarantee the democratic rights of the residents there. In rural areas, efforts have been made to continue to conduct rural grass-roots mass self-management activities that focus on villagers' democratic elections, democratic policy-making, democratic management and democratic supervision. In 1996, rural villagers' committees in most provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government carried out a new round of elections by adopting the method by which villagers could directly cast votes to elect the committees. Many places adopted the method by which every eligible voter in villages has the right to nominate candidates, and the villagers' congresses or representatives of villagers select formal candidates by secret ballot and through preliminary elections. Candidates must run for elections. Voters will mark their ballots in specially-designated rooms. Villagers' committees regularly or periodically make public the affairs of the village to the villagers. For example, by the end of 1996 in Hebei Province, 50,191 of the 50,430 villages throughout the province had made public village affairs in various forms and to varying extent, including six items such as financial expenditures at the village level, grain purchased by the state and the accumulation and retention of common funds by the collective, the granting of plots for housing construction, electricity rates and charges, family planning and objectives of village cadres during their terms. Publicizing village affairs has increased the rights of villagers to exercise democratic management of and democratic supervision over villagers affairs. In cities, urban neighborhood committees and their subsidiary organizations continued to be set up and perfected. More than 98 percent of the residential areas all over the country have established neighborhood committees in accordance with legal procedures. In 1996, the overwhelming majority of neighborhood committees carried out, according to law, elections of new committees by adopting the method of directly casting votes by residents. Neighborhood committees have further perfected the residents' meeting system. Important affairs concerning the residential areas are decided by residents' meetings. A sample survey of 127 cities shows that on average, every neighborhood committee holds at least ten residents' meetings a year. The building of democracy at grassroots levels serves as an important reflection of democracy enjoyed by the Chinese people. All the overseas people who have no prejudice but have a good understanding of China's actual situation have fully acknowledged the building of democracy at grassroots levels in China.