China media: Legislative reforms

A girl runs in front of an advertising board in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, 17 November 2013
Image caption Reforms allowing more couples to have two children are expected

Media in China are discussing proposed legislative reforms that aim to make it easier for citizens to sue the government, as well as reforms to the one-child policy.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament, is expected to discuss various reforms during its bi-monthly session this week from Monday to Saturday.

A proposed bill that will make it easier for citizens to take the government to court has captured the media's attention.

The bill will also ensure that hearings and the enforcement of verdicts favour citizens.

The Administrative Procedure Law, which covers such lawsuits, was enacted in 1990.

However, the reluctance of courts to accept lawsuits against the government and to pass a fair verdict has forced millions of people to resort to petitioning the higher authorities, risking detention or being sent to a labour camp.

The Beijing Youth Daily says the NPC's move is "long overdue" since few people succeed in bringing their cases to court and less than 10% of plaintiffs have won cases in the last 23 years.

"The common sight of people being unable to obtain a fair trial in 'civil lawsuits against the government' has seriously harmed social justice and created a large number of social problems," notes The Beijing News.

According to the Southern Metropolis Daily, the proposed draft amendments tabled for discussion stipulate that courts must give reasons for rejecting a lawsuit, and must file a lawsuit within seven days after accepting a claim.

Meanwhile, the NPC Standing Committee will also discuss two bills proposed by the State Council, China's cabinet, on abolishing the penal labour camp system and further easing the one-child policy.

The NPC is expected to back government plans to allow couples to have two children if either parent is an only child.

Previously, a husband and wife both had to be single children to be eligible to have a second child.

The new plan is expected to roll out in some provinces of China in the first quarter of 2014.

Vaccine safety concerns

In other news, the Communist Party on Monday launched a Marxist education campaign across all sectors of society from primary schools, universities and businesses to the media and the internet to promote "core socialist values", Xinhua news agency reports.

A front-page editorial on the party's mouthpiece, the People's Daily, says the 24 values include democracy, the rule of law, social harmony, civility and patriotism. They are divided into three groups known as the "three advocates".

The party also wants more citizens to promote the spirit of Lei Feng, a communist propaganda icon from the 1960s who devoted almost all of his spare time and money to selflessly helping the needy.

The circular also calls for the national flag to be displayed and the national anthem played and sung on major occasions. It supports the development of "red" tourism in the Communist Party's former revolutionary bases.

As the end of the year approaches, the Communist Party has ordered officials not to appear at high-end private clubs or accept membership cards, the Beijing Times and The Beijing News report.

Since a ban on feasting at public expense in restaurants was enforced, the notice says some officials are turning historic buildings, parks and other public resources into private clubs for secret feasting and entertainment.

It says senior cadres have even been engaging in "power-for-money or power-for-sex deals" in such clubs.

Despite the party's ongoing austerity drive, the Beijing Youth Daily published a photo on its front cover yesterday of a lavish multi-million dollar office building in Mentougou, a rural district of Beijing, with onion-shaped golden domes similar to the Kremlin domes in Moscow.

Meanwhile, the Oriental Morning Post, Southern Metropolis Daily and other media are calling for stricter safety checks on vaccine makers amid a public scare over the recent deaths of seven infants who were inoculated with a hepatitis B vaccine in the provinces of Guangdong, Hunan and Sichuan.

The producer of the vaccine, Shenzhen-based firm BioKangtai, insists that it complied with safety checks. However, use of the vaccine has been halted while the Health Ministry investigates the company's products and the deaths.

Many Chinese are sceptical about the government's safety assurances due to numerous cover-ups in the past such as an outbreak of the Sars virus in 2002.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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