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188 32 What Matters in a Legal System Is Its Effectiveness1 August 15, 1988 Our country has no well-established legal tradition and its current legal system is still very incomplete, so it would be quite difficult to draw up many laws and regulations all at once. If you want to turn some practices into laws, you have to consider whether they are viable over the long term, stable, and serious. You can’t keep changing them: if you issue them today and change them tomorrow, they can’t be taken seriously. At the same time, laws and regulations must be authoritative and must be enforced once they are issued. If this is frequently unachievable, then legislation won’t have much meaning. That’s why under the current circumstances, we still have to seek truth from facts. If things are still embryonic, if they still can’t be formulated into laws or regulations, it’d be better to have more policy rules and ordinances instead—after all, effectiveness is what we care about. Set some rules regarding an issue, go with the flow, and handle it as a government policy matter. Then, after several years of practice have demonstrated that legislation on this issue is possible, go ahead and legislate. In legislating, we should care about quality rather than quantity. It is absolutely not the case that a law or regulation has authority once it is passed by the People’s Congress. Our bureau-level government departments should still focus on studying and drawing up government policies that are suited to actual conditions. They should continually revise and refine them while at the same time strengthening macro- and policy management. Then select the ones most necessary, urgent, and fairly well developed at the time and elevate them into laws, so that everyone can implement them seriously. If they aren’t at an appropriate level of development, we don’t necessarily have to do so. In 1986 the State Council issued the “Rules on Responsibility for Industrial Product Quality,” which I drafted at its behest and went over in detail. During that drafting, I felt very strongly that if we want to truly strengthen the quality of management, each article would have to include provisions for penalties. 1. This is a speech on the municipal government’s legal work given by Zhu Rongji at the 15th mayor’s administrative meeting of the Shanghai municipal government. Zhu_Shanghai Years_1987-1991_hc_9780815731399_i-xii_1-620.indd 188 12/26/17 12:00 PM What Matters in a Legal System Is Its Effectiveness 189 Without such provisions, they would all be empty words. Take, for example, people being poisoned to death by the use of industrial alcohol in alcoholic beverages. Criminal liabilities should be pursued in all cases of deaths caused by fake or imitation foodstuffs—I wrote that in. Some people said, this won’t do, it’s too specific. I replied, if it isn’t specific, it amounts to nothing. That’s why I insisted on having fairly specific provisions for penalties. Leaders of the various departments of government bureaus and of city government must take laws and macromanagement seriously themselves. You can’t have something become a law today and then keep doing as you please tomorrow. Zhu_Shanghai Years_1987-1991_hc_9780815731399_i-xii_1-620.indd 189 12/26/17 12:00 PM ...


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MARC Record
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