2006 is an unusual year in the process of the establishment the rule of law in Zhejiang and even in China.
In April 2006, at the proposal of the then Secretary of the Zhejiang Provincial Committee of the CPC, Xi Jinping, the Provincial Party Committee made a major strategic deployment to establish the rule of law in Zhejiang.
Since then, the exploration of the rule of law in China has opened a new chapter at the provincial level.
Zhejiang has been forging ahead in the past fifteen years. Zhejiang has always been strengthening the Party’s leadership over the establishment of the rule of law, always attaching importance to the leading role of legislation, continuously improving the level of administration according to law, deepening the reform of the judicial system, always adhering to and developing the “Fengqiao Experience” in the new era, and comprehensively establishing a grand social law-popularizing pattern.
Zhejiang has been making fruitful achievements in the past fifteen years. Three cities (counties) and two projects have successfully been created into the first batch of demonstration areas and projects for the establishment of government under the rule of law in the country. Zhejiang has become one of the provinces with the fewest approval items, the highest efficiency, the best business environment, and the strongest sense of fulfillment among people and enterprises.
The window of the rule of law in Zhejiang best showcases the beautiful picture of the rule of law in China.
Zhejiang has been drawing a blueprint to the end, with the superior officials serving as role models for the inferior officials.
In December 2020, Zhejiang embarked on the new journey of the “14th Five-Year Plan”.
The Provincial Party Committee held its third meeting, to study and implement Xi Jinping thought on the rule of law, to fully implement the decisions and deployments of the Central and Provincial Party committees on the establishment of the rule of law, and to plan and deploy the establishment of the rule of law in Zhejiang in 2021 and a period to come.
The Provincial Party Committee took the lead in setting an example to plan ahead, giving a strong signal: Zhejiang would strive to build a demonstration zone for the rule of law in China and create an important window displaying the superiority of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the new era, with higher political awareness, a stronger sense of responsibility, and greater confidence and determination.
Back to the beginning of the new century, Zhejiang was thinking over the question: How to achieve effective and efficient governance by drawing on a sound legal system? At that time, Zhejiang was facing the profound adjustments of social interest relations and the accumulation of many contradictions in the process of reform and development.
“The Rule of Law in Zhejiang” gave a resounding answer!
In 2003, the Provincial Party Committee made a major decision of implementing “the Double Eight Development Strategy”, in which the establishment of the rule of law was listed as the top priority in optimizing the soft environment for development in Zhejiang. On the basis of a large number of investigations and preliminary preparations, in April 2006, the 10th Plenary Session of the 11th Provincial Party Committee made the decision to establish the rule of law in Zhejiang, which push the establishment of the rule of law to an unprecedented strategic height.
Zhejiang has been drawing a blueprint to the end. The successive Provincial Party Committees have been insisting on taking the establishment of the rule of law in Zhejiang as an important part of the in-depth implementation of “the Double Eight Development Strategy”, always moving forward along the road of establishment of the rule of law in Zhejiang pioneered by Comrade Xi Jinping, and striving to put the establishment of the rule of law in Zhejiang at the forefront on the whole in the country.
In the past 15 years, the system of advancing the rule of law has become more complete.
The Zhejiang Provincial Party Committee has established a leading group for the establishment of the rule of law in Zhejiang, to regularly study and solve major and prominent issues in the establishment of the rule of law. The Party committees has been taking the lead to assume responsibilities for overall planning, the top leaders has been taking responsibilities for the whole work, and all relevant organs and units have been working together, putting the establishment of the rule of law at the top of the Party committees’ agenda for important issues, and including the effectiveness of the establishment of the rule of law in the assessment of the performance of leaders.
In the past 15 years, the working mechanism for the rule of law has become more solid.
The main leaders of the successive Provincial Party Committees and Provincial Governments personally deployed, inspected, coordinated, and supervised the establishment of the rule of law, carried out the creation of advanced units (demonstration units) for counties (cities, districts) under the rule of law for 12 consecutive years, and organized appraisal and evaluation of the establishment of the rule of law in Zhejiang (governments under the rule of law) every year, to pass the pressure of implementation from upper to lower levels.
The development of Yucun in Northern Zhejiang is a vivid proof of the rule of law in Zhejiang at the grassroots level.
On March 30, 2020, Bao Xinmin, the former secretary of the Party Committee of Yucun Village, Tianhuangping Township, Anji County, once again met General Secretary Xi Jinping. He was proud of the transformation of the once dilapidated small mountain village into a national democracy and rule of law demonstration village. Over the years, the successive secretaries of the village Party committee has always been adhering to the concept of developing democracy and the rule of law in Yucun. Like Yucun, thousands of villages and communities in the province have become witnesses, beneficiaries, and promoters of the rule of law in Zhejiang.
The leading of reform has been stimulating new impetus for the rule of law.
At the beginning of this year, Tonglu County Government Administrative Law Enforcement Command Center was established. The supervisory forces, professional law enforcement teams, and township (sub-district) law enforcement forces across the county accept unified command and dispatch, leaving traces online from information publicity, incident handling to result feedback.
This center is not ordinary.
It is another brand-new exploration in the field of “large comprehensive integration” administrative law enforcement reform in Zhejiang Province, and it is also a vivid practice of making full use of the rule of law thinking in the process of promoting the reform of “county and township integration, and unified management”.
Reform and the rule of law are like the two wings of a bird and the two wheels of a carriage. The rule of law thinking and approaches can be seen everywhere in reform in Zhejiang, providing a solid guarantee for comprehensively deepening the reform.
The rule of law thinking has been promoting the transformation of government functions. In 2014, Zhejiang became the first province to publish the “lists of power” of provincial, city and county government departments on the Internet. This “self-revolution” of the government has brought another leap in the improvement of business environment.
The rule of law has directly been used to cope with the bottlenecks of systems and mechanisms. In June 2019, provincial, city and county bureaus of justice in Zhejiang Province all displayed the “Administrative Reconsideration Bureau” signs, to uniformly handle cases needing administrative reconsideration related to governments and departments at the same level. The first-level government administrative reconsideration just opens one service window, which has become another innovative exploration in the field of system and mechanism reform in Zhejiang Province.
Zhejiang is thriving because of reforms. The “breakthroughs” of reform and the “establishment” of the rule of law, and the “advance” of reform and the “guarding” of the rule of law, are intertwined and reinforcing each other on the land of Zhijiang. Zhejiang has continuously been making economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological civilization and various causes of Party building increasingly flourishing on the track of the rule of law.
High-quality legislation is fruitful.
On February 5 this year, the sixth meeting of the 13th Wenzhou Municipal People’s Congress passed Wenzhou Housekeeping Service Regulations, which makes targeted provisions on outstanding problems in the housekeeping service industry and provides legal support for the promotion of the sound development of the housekeeping service industry. This is also the first local regulations in the field of housekeeping services formulated by a prefecture city in the country.
The rule of law escorts reform to set sail on a long journey. In the past 15 years, Zhejiang Province has formulated more than 20 local laws and regulations, which are pioneering in the country, including Zhoushan National Marine Special Reserve Management Regulations, Zhejiang Province Private Enterprise Development Promotion Regulations, Zhejiang Province Digital Economy Promotion Regulations, etc.
The reform of the judicial system is rapidly and steadily advancing.
Zhejiang Province has fully been implementing the judicial responsibility system, improving the judicial power operating mechanism, perfecting the judges’ power and responsibility list, implementing the court and procuratorate president’s regulations on handling cases, and strengthening the intelligent supervision of the “four types of cases”, making judicial quality, efficiency and credibility steadily improved.
In 2011, Shaoxing took the lead in exploring and practicing the environmental pollution damage identification assessment and compensation system in the country. Five years later, this city again took the lead in formulating a series of ecological and environmental damage compensation systems and supporting measures.
In June 2017, China’s first Internet court was established in Hangzhou, in the wake of the 36th meeting of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms reviewing and approving a number of documents, including the Proposal for Establishing Hangzhou Internet Court.
Digital reform is booming.
Focusing on the overall layout of the province’s digital development, Zhejiang Province takes the political and legal digital collaboration project as the “top leader” project, to promote the leap from informatization to intelligence in the political and legal work. A number of innovative projects, such as “Snow Bright Project”, “Cloud Public Security and Intelligent Prevention and Control”, “Smart Court”, “Smart Prosecution”, and “Smart Judicial, have been being implemented in depth.
The “1338” digital rule of law system in Zhejiang has been established, including the comprehensive application of digital rule of law, the integrated political and legal case handling system, the comprehensive administrative law enforcement system, and the mediation and resolution system of social conflicts and disputes, three related integrated applications, and 8 basic applications.
The rule of law is for the people, providing people with a stronger sense of fulfillment.
92.25 points, this is the score for the comprehensive satisfaction with the establishment of the rule of law in Zhejiang in 2020.
This is a number that is increasing year by year. Behind it is the starting point and ultimate purpose of the establishment of the rule of law in Zhejiang, that is, “putting people first and protecting the fundamental rights and interests of people”.
When involved in a compensation dispute with the employer, Mr. Li, who once worked in Hongqiao Village, Wuzhen Township, Tongxiang City, used a visual intelligent terminal placed in the office building of the village committee to connect with the on-duty lawyer of the Tongxiang Legal Aid Center, getting professional answers and help without spending a penny.
Gone are the days when there was no way to file a suit. After receiving the court’s support, the renters still did not move out. This was a true story of Xiao Chen from Linhai. After thorough research and discussion, notaries of Linhai Notary Office and law enforcement officers registered and counted the renters’ belongings together, which were then transferred to the designated storage by professionals.
Mr. Yang, an overseas Chinese, returned to China to visit relatives. He could not buy a train ticket without an ID card, so he asked Lishui “Police and Overseas Chinese Post” platform for help. After confirming the relevant information through remote video, the staff immediately issued an identity certificate and faxed it to him.
Three seemingly ordinary stories just reflect the strong sense of fulfillment on the part of people brought about by the establishment of the rule of law in Zhejiang.
Taking people’s sense of fulfillment as the work orientation and basic principle, Zhejiang has not only been respecting and ensuring the legal rights and interests of the people in various links of legislation, law enforcement, justice, and law popularization, but also continuously making full use of the “source of living water” for the establishment of the rule of law in Zhejiang, to actively create a working pattern of the establishment of the rule of law, with the unified leadership of the Party committees, responsibilities assumed by the People’s Congress, the government, and the PPCC respectively, the coordinated promotion by various departments, and the wide participation of people.
The grassroots social governance innovations of the “four types of governance in one” of rule of law, rule of virtue, autonomy, and smart governance have become beautiful scenery in mountainous areas, on the islands, and in rural and urban areas in Zhejiang, including Xiangshan’s “villagers’ Stories”, Changshan’s establishment of the integrity system, and Wuyi’s “Houchen Experience”.
Zhejiang has not stopped moving forward. With the “Fengqiao Experience” in the new era as a role model, the flower of mediating people’s disputes and conflicts has been blossoming and competing for beauty.
In Yiwu, a foreign-related mediation team composed of 21 foreign mediators from 18 countries has been providing a sound legal environment for international trade. In Dinghai, the “Sea Taxi” mediation studio has been focusing on resolving conflicts and disputes between small boats, crew members, and between crew members and ship owners in the port. In Kecheng, the identities of mediator and grid member are combined into one, realizing a seamless connection between mediation and grid, and between investigation and resolution.
According to statistics, there are currently 1,360 public legal service stations, more than 28,000 service spots, and more than 30,000 people’s mediation organizations in Zhejiang Province.
In the past 15 years, Zhejiang Province has continued to promote the work pattern of grand social law popularization. Leaders have been taking the lead in respecting, learning, following, and using laws, in launching law popularization interactions, and in building legal culture positions, instilling law popularization education into the mind of millions of Zhejiang people.
Bathed in such an atmosphere, people are accustomed to finding solutions to problems and safeguarding rights and interests through the rule of law, when facing conflicts or disputes.
Having objectives in mind, Zhejiang strives to be a “role model” in China.
The establishment of the rule of law in Zhejiang has blaze a new trail in putting the rule of law first in an economically advanced region at the provincial level.
Over the past 15 years, Zhejiang has resolutely followed this path and pioneered a series of legal practices in the country, such as locally formulated legislation, reform of the administrative reconsideration system, integration of “three types of governance”, and Internet justice. These practices have drawn beautiful picture scrolls of the rule of law in Zhejiang, enriched and developed the connotation of the socialist rule of law, and provided a “Zhejiang sample” for the rule of law in China.
On the fourth working day after the Spring Festival in 2006, Comrade Xi Jinping said that grassroots work must be good at solving various conflicts and problems on the track of the rule of law, when inspecting the comprehensive governance center of Xianlin Township, Yuhang District, Hangzhou.
In 2019, based on the work experience of the first national comprehensive governance center of Qiaosi Sub-district, Yuhang District Social Governance Comprehensive Service Center (Social Conflict and Dispute Mediation and Resolution Center) was put into operation, integrating five platforms including public legal service platforms into one, and becoming a central hub for joint mediation and diversified resolution of conflicts and disputes.
Nowadays, the county-level conflict and dispute mediation and resolution centers are being promulgated throughout the province. These centers can not only provide mediation, litigation, public law service, and other services, but also launch a collaborative application system for mediation and resolution of social conflicts and disputes, further promoting overall smart governance and efficient coordination, and continuously deepening the reform of “no more than one personal visit” in the field of social governance.
Zhejiang is developing from a national perspective without being limited to the province itself. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, General Secretary Xi Jinping has proposed the grand objective of establishing the rule of law in China, incorporating the comprehensive governance of the country under the rule of law into the “four comprehensive” strategic layout in a pioneering manner, and pointing out the way forward and providing the fundamental principle for the deepening of the rule of law in Zhejiang.
In the new era, Zhejiang has ushered in the new mission of creating an “important window” and the new objective of striving for a pioneering province of socialist modernization. Driven by the rule of law and digital reforms, Zhejiang has been focusing on the goal of building a demonstration zone for the rule of law in China, to strive to achieve the “six first breakthroughs” by taking as the step the creation of a number of characteristic and influential results in the establishment of the rule of law.
Zhejiang is comprehensively building the government under the rule of law, by taking the lead in making breakthroughs in the reform of “grand comprehensive integration” administrative law enforcement.
Zhejiang is taking the lead in making breakthroughs in creating first-class legalized business environment, to promote high-quality economic and social development.
Zhejiang is taking the lead in making breakthroughs in the rule of law in grassroots social governance, to accelerate the construction of a society under the rule of law.
Zhejiang is taking the lead in building a provincial-level rule of law network system, to comprehensively promote the rule of law in cyberspace.
Zhejiang is taking the lead in building a standardized and efficient judicial supervision system, to strengthen the restriction and supervision of judicial power operation.
Zhejiang is taking the lead in making breakthroughs in the digitally-driven rule of law, to build a smart province under the rule of law.
This year, Zhejiang Province will comprehensively promote the implementation of "Planning for the Establishment of the Rule of Law in Zhejiang (2021-2025), to strive to make breakthroughs every year, achieve major improvements in two years, and create new scenarios in five years, to continue to put the establishment of the rule of law in Zhejiang at the forefront of the country, and to enable people to see, touch, and perceive the results.
Looking back on the past, the rule of law has left a glorious mark on the history of Zhejiang, from the vivid scroll of the rule of law in Zhejiang to the grand blueprint of the rule of law in China.
Looking at the present, the degree of the rule of law in respects of the Party’s leadership, exercise of power, business environment, and social governance has continuously been improve, people’s awareness of democracy and the rule of law has continuously been increased, and the rule of law has been shining more brilliantly, creating potent dynamics for the loyalty practice of the “Double Eight Development Strategy”, the creation of an “important window”, and the forging of a pioneering province of socialist modernization.