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18 February 2014

Better regulation makes progress in China

According to China News, the State Council, China's cabinet, scrapped another batch of government administrative approval requirements on 15 February in a bid to boost market-oriented activities in the economy. According to the announcement, 82 administrative approvals in the telecoms and insurance industries have been cut or made easier to obtain, including canceling the approval of telecommunications services fees and canceling the qualified assessment for insurance assessment practitioners. It is the fifth time the cabinet has reduced red tape since the new leadership took office last year. This change of policy was also clear in the December revision of the Administrative Procedure Act, which has been amended to stress citizens' right to sue. New stipulations include instructions that more rights infringement cases are to be accepted by the courts, for instance cases in which administrators have infringed ownership or rights to use natural resources such as forests, pasture, mineral reserves, mountains and water. Courts shall also be required to accept suits concerning infringement of rural land contracts and management rights, illegal fundraising, unlawful collection or requisition of property, or unfairly apportioned fees. Citizens may bring cases against governments which fail to provide appropriate subsistence allowances or social insurance benefits. There is also a call for new regulation to be more evidence-based: Yuan Jie, of the NPC Standing Committee's legislative affairs commission, believes an important principle for amending any law is to solve the most outstanding problems in the litigation process. A law must be easy to apply in the real world, and many field studies were conducted while drafting the amendment, involving court clerks, ordinary citizens and lawyers, said Yuan. The difficulty in obliging courts to even file a case in the first place was the most frequently voiced problem. Therefore the draft amendment adds many new articles in this aspect. "A law must be revised based on solid field study and must respect public opinion," she said

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