Opinion / Editorials

Change in local mentality

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-29 07:33

Will a local government be able to make rules to reduce the number of cars on the road according to license plate numbers? Probably not without the authorization of the local people's congress when the new Legislation Law takes effect.

A clause in the draft of the law reviewed by the 12th National People's Congress Standing Committee on Saturday stipulates that a local government cannot make rules that infringe upon people's rights and increase their obligations unless it is authorized to do so by the local people's congress.

The message is that a local government will no longer be able to take it for granted that it can do whatever it believes right just by making rules.

This requires a change of mentality and the awareness that a government can do nothing that has not been authorized by the law.

Serve the people is a slogan that has long been on the lips of Party and government officials. But the reality is the majority of government leaders, those at local levels in particular, have long held the belief that they naturally represent the interests of citizens and thus they can make decisions on their behalf without getting their consent.

Because of this attitude, it was natural for a local government to set restrictions on the way people did something, such as getting loans to buy a house for instance, by issuing local government rules.

It thus became intuitive for them to believe whatever they considered reasonable and acceptable must reflect the will of the public. Even if they know that their decisions are against the will of the people, they still believe that they have to power to do so.

Many of them do not have the least sense of the rule of law. This explains why it is difficult for the rule of law to take root in the country. And it also explains why the topic of governing according to law, which was proposed as the theme for the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in October, is of great significance to the future of this country.

Rome was not built in a day. It will be an arduous task for the country to let its public servants develop the awareness of governing according to law and the Constitution. And it requires that the people's congress at all levels grow teeth and play the role of effective watchdogs.

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