For law professor Hou Xinyi, the designation of Constitution Day in 2014 was the culmination of his years of efforts.
Ever since Hou became a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in 2008, he had made proposals to designate a constitution festival in the country.
“Though we had called for the rule of law for a long time, public awareness was still weak,” Hou said when talking about his intentions. “Many people didn’t even know what the constitution was.”
Setting aside a day to commemorate it will get people to attach importance to it, Hou said.
In 2014, China’s top legislature designated December 4 as Constitution Day amid efforts to enhance the document’s implementation and advance the rule of law.
“I was glad to see the news, anyway, after all, my proposals were kind of adopted,” Hou said.
A “day” is not as influential as a “festival”, according to Hou, adding it’s still of great significance for the journey towards the rule of law.
Hou said the first year few media outlets reported his proposal and all the comments on the Internet were negative. “Compared with the official and public reactions at the beginning, I can see people’s knowledge and awareness of the rule of law have been much improved,” he said.
In Hou’s eight-year career as a CPPCC member, he has been doing his part in promoting the rule of law.
“Every year, my proposals will focus on the rule of law and education,” said Hou, a professor in Nankai University School of Law.
“One of my proposals was about abolishing the laojiao system,” Hou said, “Though the reform was actually pushed by lots of people, I feel proud to have participated in it.”
“Re-education through labor,” or laojiao, originated in the mid-1950s as a means of dealing with “counterrevolutionaries” and “rightists,” but from the 1980s its focus was expanded to target various forms of social deviancy. It enabled the police to sentence habitual petty criminals to up to four years’ detention without trial.
Laojiao had been widely criticized and was officially abolished in December 2013.
This year, Hou is going to suggest the country draft a law against discrimination in employment.
“Discriminations in employment, such as by gender, region, and hukou (household registration), can be seen everywhere,” said Hou, “There are so many cases that people almost take it for granted.”
Hou cited a case in Nankai that even administrative staff had to have graduated from the “211” and “985”, two official higher education programs.
“Whether a candidate is qualified for these posts has nothing to do with his or her university,” Hou said.
It is not the first time that Hou submitted such a proposal. “Currently we haven’t seen any move towards making this law, but I will keep making proposals on it.”