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Qiao Shi, champion of rule of law, dies at age 91

Zhang Yi
Updated: Jun 15,2015 7:19 AM     China Daily

Former top legislator Qiao Shi, a leading figure in China’s endeavors to build up its legal system through more than two decades until the 1990s, has died aged 91.

He died in Beijing at 7:08 am on June 14, according to a statement from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

Qiao was praised in the statement as an excellent Party member, a time-tested and loyal Communist soldier, and an outstanding proletarian revolutionist, statesman and leader of the Party and the state.

He was a former member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

Qiao was born in Shanghai in December 1924 and joined the CPC in August 1940 at the age of 15 when the Kuomintang, the Chinese Nationalist Party, ruled the country. He lived through the grim period of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression.

He took part in the anti-Kuomintang student movement in his youth and became one of the influential leaders of the movement in Shanghai.

Among his many contributions to the Party and the country, his efforts to champion the rule of law received widespread recognition.

These endeavors were amply demonstrated in the building up of the legal system and introduction of the concept of the rule of law in economics after he was appointed secretary of the CPC’s Central Committee of Political and Legal Affairs in July 1985.

In April 1987, during the first national meeting on legal affairs since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Qiao foresaw the profound political and economic changes that the country was about to undergo. He said, “We need to learn to organize the economic and social affairs under the laws.”

He oversaw the amendment to the Constitution in 1992 that established the authority of socialist theory with Chinese characteristics in the fundamental law.

Qiao was chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, from March 1993 to March 1998 and oversaw the introduction of groundbreaking legislation covering economic matters. As the head of the legislature, he ranked third in the country’s political hierarchy.

He toiled ceaselessly to formulate laws, many of them aimed at ensuring that the new market economy operated well as the country moved away from the planned economy that had prevailed since the PRC was founded.

A number of laws on economics were adopted by the end of 1996, including the Corporation Law and the Labor Law as well as a dozen laws on finance. More than 100 laws and regulations were ratified during his term, and they have served as a cornerstone of the country’s legal framework.

Tian Jiyun, former vice-chairman of the NPC’s Standing Committee and Qiao’s right-hand man, said the committee ratified 118 drafts on legal affairs during Qiao’s term in the NPC, and this created a good environment for the growth of the socialist market economy.

“Qiao was wise in the way he worked, and he was a man of principle,” Tian said in an article written several years ago. “I got on with him very well.”

Qiao was the author of a book on China’s legal system between 1985 and 1998, published in June 2012.

The book, including 102 speeches, reports and articles, focuses on China’s political and legal affairs, including legislation and the work of the NPC.

He donated the income from the book, about 1 million yuan ($160,000), to a legal foundation. This remains one of the largest donations by a government official.

His daughter Qiao Ling said her father dreamed of building up the rule of law in the country and was a strong advocate of safeguarding the Constitution and laws and making laws work.

She said his donation was intended to fund academic legal research and other nonprofit projects and promote a robust legal system.

Qiao held almost every major position in the CPC, including head of the international department, head of the General Office of the Central Committee, head of the personnel department, secretary of the top anti-graft authority and president of the Party School of the Central Committee.

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