The Communist Party of China is proposing to amend the country’s Constitution for the first time in the last 14 years. The proposed changes include incorporating the rights of Chinese cities to make local laws and giving supervisory commissions the status of state organs in the Constitution. These supervisory commissions have the authority of supervising any “public personnel” who exercise public authority in China. The current version of the Constitution was adopted by the 5th National People’s Congress on December 4, 1982. It has so far seen four amendments with the last having taken place in 2004 under then-President Hu Jintao.
On Sunday, the Communist Party’s Central Committee had made public 11 proposals on amendments to the Constitution. One of these include removing from the constitution a clause limiting the presidency to two five-year terms, which would allow President Xi Jinping to continue as president beyond his term limit of 2023. The remaining nine amendments include granting power to cities to make local laws.
“Chinese cities, with subordinate districts, would be granted the power to make local laws and regulations under the proposed constitutional amendment. The people’s congresses and their standing committees of these cities would be able to adopt local laws and regulations under the condition that they do not contradict the Constitution, national laws and regulations, and provincial laws and regulations,” the proposal read. As of now, there are at least 294 cities with subordinate districts in China. The local laws and regulations would take effect after being approved by the standing committees of provincial-level People’s Congresses.
In 2015, China’s national legislators had passed a law expanding legislative power from 49 cities to 288 nation-wide, empowering their legislatures to make local laws. Under the previous system, the law allowed cities to issue local laws about “rural and urban development and management, environmental protection, and preservation of historical heritage and cultural values”.
Another amendment that has been proposed includes listing of Supervisory Commissions as a new type of state organ in the Constitution. National Supervision System is a new anti-corruption mechanism set up by China, in which panels are being set up both at national and local levels. It will be the highest body supervising any “public personnel” who exercise public authority. “Supervisory organs will be listed together with administrative, judicial and procuratorial organs of the State, all of which are created by the People’s Congresses to which they are responsible and by which they are supervised,” the proposal stated.
Under the absence of such Supervisory organs, state councils and local governments had the responsibility of supervising officials and cracking down on corruption. “The supervisory commissions will independently exercise their power of supervision and not be subject to interference by any administrative organ, public organisation or individual,” said the proposal.
The proposal has been made by the Communist Party’s Central Committee, which is comprised of China’s top 200 Communist officials. The third plenary session of the 19th Central Committee is going to be held from February 26 to 28 in Beijing. The proposals will now go before legislators at the full session of the National People’s Congress, which begins March 5.