Monday, September 29, 2014

Does law have a place in China's military and national defense reforms?

Does law have a place in China's military and national defense reforms?  The answer to that, according to recent publications by China's top military legal officials, the Legislative Affairs Bureau  (Office) of the Central Military Commission (linked here (in Chinese)) and Col. Shi Qingren, a researcher at China's Academy of Military Sciences (linked here)(in English), is yes.

According to Col. Shi, foreign researchers haven't been paying much attention to China's military reform, which means that fewer are paying attention to the military legal reforms (except for the regular readers of this blog). Col. Shi tells us that improving the military legal system is an important aspect of bringing China's military policies and mechanisms into the modern age. 

The Legislative Affairs Bureau officials gives us a glimpse into some of their thinking, echoing some of the points made by their head in November 2013:
  • strategic reforms need a legal basis, they must be done according to legal procedures, methods, and authorization;
  • Improvements to legislation need to go together with strategic reforms;
  • To prevent conflicts between current legislation and military reforms, legislation needs to be amended simultaneously.
  • The legislative framework needs to break out of its current restrictions.
  • Better planning and arrangements for military legislation are needed.
  • In particular, instead of narrowly amending a few provisions, an entire body of legislation needs to be overhauled.
  • Expert review, more consultation, and better channels are needed.
  • Legislative drafting needs to be pulled out of departments, to avoid the legalization of departmental interests.
  • Military legislation needs to be better coordinated with civilian legislation
The Chinese leadership meets in October, for the Fourth Plenum of the 18th Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, to focus on the rule of law.  It is likely that some broad principles for military legal reform will be laid down, but this prediction with be (dis)proved by events.

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