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China declares holiday as part of law campaign

November 1, 2014

BEIJING (AP) — China’s legislature designated Dec. 4 as Constitution Day on Sunday amid a drive to strengthen the authority of the country’s legal system.

The move by the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee aims to increase awareness of the constitution, promote its spirit, and strengthen its implementation, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The holiday will be marked by activities to promote the constitution around the country, Xinhua said.

China has enacted a total of four constitutions since the founding of the communist state in 1949, with the current version adopted in 1982.

The new holiday is part of President Xi Jinping’s “rule of law” campaign seen as an attempt to institutionalize the powers of the ruling Communist Party while reducing corruption and improving government efficiency.

Critics have pointed to numerous contradictions inherent in the campaign, primarily the party’s firm rejection of calls for independent supervision under the constitution, whose first article forbids any challenge to the country’s socialist system.

The spirit of the constitution includes acknowledging “the leadership of the Communist Party of China,” Xinhua quoted NPC Standing Committee member Xu Xianming as saying.

China’s constitution also enshrines the concept of freedom of speech and other basic rights that are nonetheless severely restricted by Chinese law, party regulations and the arbitrary preferences of the authorities and security forces.

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