China’s Politburo Move On Judicial Reform

Reported in the South China Morning Post yesterday…

Judicial reforms top list for Politburo 
Meeting aims to ease rising social tension
Woods Lee SCMP Nov 29, 2008

The Communist Party leadership had approved in principle a resolution to push ahead with judicial reform to alleviate rising social tension and support the country’s economic reforms, state media reported yesterday.
The approval was given in a meeting of the party’s decision-making Politburo yesterday, which was presided over by president and party chief Hu Jintao . Economic matters were also discussed. The main thrust of the reform plan is to strengthen the system of checks and balances and to make the judiciary system more just and efficient, according to China Central Television. It gave few details of the reform plan or any timetable.
The reform is aimed at easing people’s increasing dissatisfaction towards the various levels of government, which is increasingly threatening social stability, according to the report. "The reform will be focused on resolving issues about which people feel very dissatisfied and really make the reform for the people, dependent on the people and beneficial to the people," the report quoted the Politburo as saying. But the party leadership has no plans for a "western-style" democracy, it said, reiterating that judicial reform would be carried out "in its own manner" and "at its own pace".
"The reform must be put under the party’s leadership and carried out actively yet steadily … and must always stick to the ideal of socialism with Chinese characteristics," it said.  The resolution emphasised the leadership of the Communist Party, although it did consult with the eight "democratic parties" in the country. "We will learn some advanced achievements from all civilisations," CCTV quoted Jia Qinglin – the fourth-ranked leader of the party and the chairman of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a top advisory council to the National People’s Congress – as saying.
"But we will absolutely not copy western-style democracy and judicial system word for word."  The increasing wealth gap, widespread corruption, and especially the recently contaminated milk scandal has once again raised doubt over the effectiveness of the judiciary system and the party’s ability to carry out its promised "rule of law".  In June, thousands of angry people rammed the buildings of the public security bureau of Wengan county in Guizhou province , burning police vehicles and beating officials for an allegedly unfair treatment of a rape case. In July, a Beijing resident, Yang Jia , stabbed six Shanghai police officers to death because he thought he had been wronged by police, who had accused him of bicycle theft.
Last month, People’s Supreme Court deputy chief Huang Songyou’s  involvement in a bribery case shocked the nation, shaking people’s confidence.  Despite years of glittering economic success, the mainland has made limited progress in governing under the rule of law.  Beijing started its market-oriented reforms in 1978, but the clause of "exercising the rule of law" was written into the country’s constitution only in March 1999.