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Use of ICT by the Chinese NPC
Posted: June-17-2014Adjust font size:

Speech by Li Lianning at World e-Parliament Conference in Seoul, ROK, 2014 

People’s Congresses at various levels and their standing committees

The Chinese NPC is the highest organ of state power in China. Its permanent body is the Standing Committee of the NPC. The NPC is elected for a term of five years and meets in session once a year. There are about 3,000 deputies to the NPC. Owing to the large number of deputies, it is not convenient for the NPC to convene meetings frequently. According to the Chinese Constitution, the Standing Committee of the NPC exercises functions of the highest organ of state power when the NPC is not in session.

The NPC has the following four functions and powers: (1) Legislative power. The NPC and its Standing Committee exercise legislative power. According to the Chinese Constitution, the NPC amends the Constitution and supervises its enforcement. The NPC also enacts and amends basic laws governing criminal offences, civil affairs, state organs and other matters. The Standing Committee of the NPC interprets the Constitution and laws, and enacts and amends all laws, except that should be enacted and amended by the NPC. When the NPC is not in session, its Standing Committee may partially supplement and amend laws that the NPC enacted provided that the changes do not contravene the laws’ basic principles. (2)Supervisory power. The NPC and its Standing Committee have the power to oversee the enforcement of the Constitution and laws. They examine and approve the report on the plan for national economic and social development and the report on the central and local budgets. They revoke administrative regulations, decisions and decrees made by the State Council that go against the Constitution and other laws and they repeal the local statutes and resolutions made by organs of state power of provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government that contravene with the Constitution, other laws or administrative regulations. They supervise the work of the State Council, the Central Military Commission, the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate(or “two courts”).(3)The power to appoint and remove members of state organs. The NPC elects, decides upon, appoints, removes and replaces heads of related state organs.(4)The Power to decide upon major state issues. The NPC decides on the establishment of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government; decides on the establishment of special administrative regions and their systems; and decides on questions of war and peace, among others.

There are five central and local levels of people’s congress and their standing committees in China. They are the National People’s Congress and its standing committee, the people’s congresses and their standing committees of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government, the people’s congresses and their standing committees of cities divided into districts and autonomous prefectures, the people’s congresses of cities not divided into districts, municipal districts and counties, and the people’s congresses of townships and towns. According to electoral law, deputies to the NPC, people’s congresses of provinces and cities divided into districts, are elected by the people’s congresses at the next lower level, which is indirect election. Deputies to the people’s congresses of counties and townships are elected directly by their constituencies, which is direct election. The NPC is the highest organ of state power. The local people’s congresses at various levels are local organs of state power. There are more than 2.67 million deputies to people’s congresses at various levels at present.

When the NPC is not in session, deputies to the NPC work in their own institutions. They are from 31 provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the Central Government, Hongkong and Macao Special Administrative Regions, covering a broad area of 9.6 million square kilometers. It is not convenient for them to obtain documents and materials. It’s difficult for constituencies to contact deputies as well. The development of modern ICT breaks the time and space barrier and provides efficient, convenient and fast ways for the working organ of the NPC to serve and contact deputies, strengthening the relationship between deputies and the public. At the same time, ICT can provide new opportunities and room of development for expanding democratic channel, broadening public political participation, guaranteeing people’s right to know, participate, express and supervise.

The development of ICT in China is very fast.

By December 2013, the number of netizens has reached 618 million, 160 million more than the 457 million in 2010. The internet penetration rate was 45.8%, 11.5% more than the 34.3% in 2010. The number of mobile phone users reached 500 million, 197 million more than the 303 million in 2010(See Chart 1 and 2).

Use of ICT by the NPC

The Chinese NPC attaches great importance to the use of ICT, giving full play to the role of ICT in legislation, supervision and deputies’ liaison work. The ICT network of the NPC is composed of intranet and internet. The intranet is composed of various departmental networks within the NPC, mainly serving internal office work, management, coordination, supervision, decision, and cooperation among different levels of people’s congresses. The internet mainly serves information disclosure, deputies’ liaison work and the public. The intranet and internet of the NPC are connected with the e-government intranet and internet of the Central Government, which share information and cooperate with each other. They are the organic components of the national e-government network. The establishment of the unified e-government network helps the NPC to supervise the Central Government and the “two courts”. It has intensive effect, and can save investment, reduce cost and promote new technologies.

The use of ICT by the NPC can be found in the following areas:

1. Information disclosure

The NPC and local people’s congresses have established internet websites, guaranteeing that the public can obtain the information on people’s congresses in a legal, timely and comprehensive manner. The website discloses information on legislation, supervision, decision, appointment, removal and institutional work of people’s congresses. It also discloses basic information (including occupation, nationality, party affiliation, degree, and contact means) and work information of deputies, which is subject to supervision by the public.

The sessions of people’s congress, group meetings, meetings of the standing committee, press conferences are broadcast live in photos and video on the internet.

Important meeting notices and related information are disclosed on mobile internet devices including APP and tablets, Weibo, public account of Weixin, etc. thus helping the public and the press to know the meetings.

The databases of legal documents, deputies information and declarations of the NPC have been established. The public can search, read and download documents and materials in the databases for free.

2. Collecting public opinion

People’s congresses represent the interests of the people and exercise state power according to people’s will. It is effective, efficient and fast to collect public opinion through the network. The NPC and local people’s congresses have carried out various activities to collect public opinion through network.

It has become common to collect public opinion on draft laws. Since 2008, all of the draft laws to be reviewed by the standing committee of the NPC have been disclosed on the website of the NPC in advance to collect public opinion. By April 1, 2014, the NPC website has collected public opinion on 59 draft laws. 400 thousand people have participated in the activities and given more than 2.05 million pieces of advice. The public has shown great enthusiasm on laws closely related to their interests. Most of the advice is about specific modification of articles in the draft laws, which has been absorbed in the newly-enacted or amended laws. The most prominent case is that the draft law on labor contract collected 557 thousand pieces of advice from 130 thousand people on the internet in 2004.

Public opinion is collected before supervision. Before inspecting the implementation of the Law on Guarantees for Disabled People, the standing committee of the NPC used public opinion poll on 12 questions on the internet. The public opinion has also been collected on the problems of its implementation and ways for improvement. From May 23 to June 30, 2012, 5982 people participated in the poll, among whom, 4219 people proposed 5186 pieces of advice.

Internet investigation. The NPC puts agenda items, including legislation, supervision, etc. on the internet in the form of questionnaires to conduct public opinion poll. This can collect the advice, suggestion and feedback of the public to the NPC, providing referential data for the scientific and democratic work of the NPC. For example, the NPC assessed the Law on Science and Technology Promotion, and the Law on Agricultural Machinery Promotion by public opinion poll and collecting public opinion on the internet. During the “two sessions” in March this year, Xinhua Net conducted 44 online researches and 15 public opinion collecting activities on meeting agenda. Those activities collected over 400 thousand articles from over 30 million netizens on the internet, blog and Weibo.

3. Interaction

Internet interview. We have invited NPC deputies, members of the standing committee and some officials from the working organs of the NPC to interact with the public on various issues, such as establishment of harmonious relationship between doctors and patients, combating climate change, interpretation of Labor Contract Law, etc. They have conducted two-way online communication and discussion, answered and explained netizens’ questions. During NPC sessions, some famous websites, including NPC Net, Xinhua Net, Renmin Net, China Net, etc. work with each other and invite NPC deputies to exchange with netizens online on hot issues concerning social and economic development, legislation and supervision. During the “two sessions” this year, Xinhua Net alone organized 102 online interviews of NPC deputies. Shanghai People’s Congress, among others, has set up Internet Discussion Day, and regularly invited officials of the standing committee and NPC deputies to conduct online discussion or Weibo interview on local legislation, supervision and other hot topics.

Email box. NPC deputies or working organs of the NPC collect opinions and advice of netizens in time, answer them carefully or forward them to related departments.

4. Information service for NPC deputies

The NPC has set up a network platform to serve deputies, guaranteeing that they know what is happening. The platform can provide NPC deputies with documents, reference materials and updated work information, and send meeting notices and SMS. The NPC has also set up a digital library, offering digital resources including newspapers, magazines, books, materials to deputies. The NPC cooperates with think tanks such as China Academy of Social Sciences, National Information Center, etc, to provide deputies with targeted research materials. Multimedia lectures of laws and regulations, NPC knowledge, seminars, etc, are uploaded on the platform for duputies to learn.

5. The public obtain laws, legislation documents and materials.

The NPC website boasts of rich digital data. The public can obtain laws, legislation documents and information on legislation, supervision and deputies through relevant columns, legal database and declarations database for free. The database of laws and regulations has collected laws, regulation, local laws and regulations (including autonomous and specific regulation), departmental regulation, local governmental regulation, interpretations made by the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, domestic and foreign treaties and agreements approved or adopted by the NPC Standing Committee, international conventions and treaties etc. The database of declarations of the Standing Committee collects all of the declarations of the standing committee, including laws, decisions, work reports, appointment and removal lists, background materials of legislation, etc. The public can quickly search, read and download them for free.

6. Electronic vote

In 1990, the electronic secret ballot system was put into use in the Great Hall of the People. Local people’s congresses at various levels usually use this system too, which can greatly improve the efficiency of voting and counting, and accuracy.

7. Treatment of motions and suggestions from deputies

NPC deputies can put forward motions and suggestions through the network platform, tracking them in real time and assessing the results of treatment. This has effectively improved the efficiency and quality of treating motions. For example, Zhejiang Provincial People’s Congress established a network platform for deputies. Before this year’s provincial sessions, the platform sent information on major work, issues and projects of the government and two courts to all of the deputies, thus creating conditions for deputies to put forward more targeted motions and suggestions. This year, provincial deputies put forward 1107 pieces of motions and suggestions with obviously improved quality, which numbered the most in the history.

8. Digital reports of the NPC and its standing committee

During the sessions of the NPC standing committee, the addresses of members of the standing committee are totally typed, recorded, and filed digitally. Since last year, the sending and editing of standing committee reports have also been digitalized, thus enhancing the efficiency and quality of editing reports. It is convenient for deputies and members to know the whole process and exchange opinions. Besides, it can provide sufficient digital data resource for information disclosure and sharing.

Measures to promote use of ICT in the Chinese People’s Congresses

1. Political resolve. Strong leadship is the key to promoting use of ICT. Leaders of the standing committee of the NPC attach great importance to the information work of the NPC and the establishment of NPC Net. The leadership has approved the Plan on Developing information Work and NPC Net. The NPC has set up the Leadership Group on Information Work and the Guiding Committee for the NPC Network, which coordinates information and network work. The Deputy Secretary-General of the standing committee serves as the head of the Leadership Group on Information Work and the Guiding Committee for the NPC Network, with officials from various departments as members.

2. Formulation of development plan. In 2012, the NPC formulated the 5-year Development Plan of the Information Work, which incorporated the information work of the NPC and local people’s congresses into the national strategy for developing information work. It is scheduled that the intranet and internet websites of the NPC will be established by 2017, realizing the mutual communication with the government and the two courts on the unified e-government platform. The national database of laws, deputies information, and work information of NPC working organs will be basically established, substantially improving the use and sharing of information resources, coordination level and digital level of work. On the basis of optimizing and improving the original information system, we have enhanced the system of the legislation work, supervision work, deputies service work and comprehensive service work. We have established a full-fledged information security system. The system centering on the data standard of the NPC work and application has been basically formed. Now the NPC is steadily promoting the implementation of the plan. We will comprehensively reconstruct the NPC information system by using cloud computing technology, and reconstruct the NPC data resources by using big data, thus further enhancing the transparency, openness and efficiency of the Chinese NPC.

3. Outsourcing of technical service. Outsourcing is broadly used in the information construction of the NPC. We make full use of social and market resources to select major professional companies to undertake the infrastructure construction, development of software, system operation and maintenance. We have saved labor and capital by outsourcing, which is beneficial to the promotion and application of advanced and mature technologies, and in-time response to new demands.

4. Strengthening the cooperation between information department and business department. We give full play to the initiative of various departments by sticking to the principle of demand-oriented, thus improving the effect of application. We pay attention to the promotion and application of information technology and system at different levels of people’s congresses, aiming to avoid redundant investment. In this way, mature and reliable technologies and application system can be rapidly popularized.

5. Cooperation with social media

We actively promote traditional media including Xinhua News Agency, People’s Daily, CCTV, China National Radio, China Radio International, etc. to use new communication tools, such as Weibo, Weixin, mini-vedio, smart terminals, etc. to broadcast meetings and activities of the NPC simultaneously. While many journalists report news for traditional media, they are making reports for emerging media of their own agencies. For example, the Xinhua News Agency posted 2449 pieces of “two sessions”news on its Weibo this year, which received over 150 thousand pieces of comments, and were forwarded for over 500 thousand times. At the same time, it cooperated with commercial websites of Tencent, Youku, Baidu, 360, etc. to broadcast NPC information.

China is a major developing country. There is still a lot of room for improvement in terms of use of ICT in people’s congresses. This session of World e-Parliament Conference provides us with a platform for communication and study. It will certainly further promote the penetration of ICT in the NPC and local people’s congresses at various levels.

Source:Editor: 王伟
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