China amends laws to empower local legislatures
China's top legislature on Saturday adopted amendments to laws that aim to give more powers to local legislatures so they can better oversee the work of the government.
Members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) passed the amendments to three laws regarding the organization, election and staffing of legislatures, or people's congresses, through a vote at the close of the bi-monthly legislative session.
The Organization Law for Local People's Congresses and Local Governments, empowers the presidium of township-level people's congresses during adjournment.
It says the presidium should regularly designate deputies to hear and review government reports that most concern the public.
Moreover, they should inspect law enforcement, collect public suggestions and criticism, and pass them to the relevant agencies.
Lawmaker Wu Heng said the provision is an important measure to prevent the presidium from sitting idle during the adjournment, and to support them to play due roles on a regular basis.
The law increases county-level people's congress standing committee membership from the previous 15-27 to 15-35. Counties with a population exceeding 1 millon will have up to 45 members, compared with 35 previously.
It further authorizes county-level people's congresses to establish legal, financial and economic committees.
Lawmaker Xin Chunying said the provision equates to expanding grassroots democracy.
The relationships among interest groups is complicated at the grassroots level, so putting more people into the county legislature to deliberate over important matters will help balance interests and prevent abuse of power, Xin said.
The Election Law prohibits Chinese citizens running for office as lawmakers with campaign funding from foreign organizations or individuals .
It says those that accept foreign funding will have their candidacy annulled and those already elected will be removed.
The NPC praised the laws for modernizing the system of people's congress while adhering to the path of political development with Chinese characteristics.