With some government officials being led astray from proper governance, the Chinese government issued a new initiative yesterday, forcing officials to at least touch the country’s Constitution, mandating that new officials must take an oath of allegiance to the Constitution before they take office, according to Xinhua.
The decision was approved by the CPC Central Committee during the Fourth Plenary Session last week and is aimed at strengthening China’s new favorite thing: “Rule of law.”
President Xi Jinping said that the pledge could encourage officials to abide by and protect the constitution along with raising constitutional awareness in the public. To really get the word out on this whole Constitution thing the committee even declared December 4th China’s National Constitution Day, and promised educational initiatives to raise awareness. China’s current Constitution was adopted in 1982, though sometimes it can be easy to forget.
Meanwhile, a court case casts a bit of doubt about how sincere China is in promoting constitutional awareness and rule of law. On Monday, Reuters reported that a filmmaker will stand trial on charges of “illegal business activity” for his documentary “100 years of constitutional governance,” making him the first person prosecuted for documenting China’s constitutional history.
This kind of thing leaves some not really stoked about National Constitution Day; from Reuters:
“The arrest of Shen is a signal from the government,” said Maya Wang from the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch. “Through these arrests, the government is making clear that the ‘rule of law’ should be understood as an instrument for the state to maintain its monopoly of power, not as a force to rein in arbitrary state power.”
We’ll see how this new initiative plays out, but perhaps tougher proposals are in order. Maybe make officials write a book report on the Constitution? Either way, a quick field trip to the torture museum might be most effective.
by Alex Linder
[Images via China Media Project]