A draft amendment to China's Constitution was submitted to the national legislature for deliberation Monday and is expected to enshrine Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era in the fundamental law of the country.
"The constitutional revision is a major move to advance law-based governance and modernize China's system and capacity for governance," said Wang Chen, vice chairperson of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), when briefing around 3,000 deputies to the 13th NPC on the revisions.
The draft suggests Xi's thought be juxtaposed with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, and the Theory of Three Represents as a new guiding theory in the preamble of the Constitution.
Scientific Outlook on Development is also proposed for incorporation into the country's constitution at this time.
"The addition establishes their guiding status in the country's political and social life, reflects common aspirations of people of all ethnic groups, embodies the unity in the Party's advocacy and people's will, and makes clear the common ideological foundation for the entire Party and all Chinese people to strive for national rejuvenation," Wang said.
If adopted, these will be the Constitution's first amendments in 14 years.
The People's Republic of China (PRC) enacted its first Constitution in 1954. The current Constitution was formulated in 1982 and amended in 1988, 1993, 1999 and 2004.
When the Constitution was revised in 1999 and 2004, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the Theory of Three Represents were given constitutional authority, respectively.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) announced the formation of Xi's thought for the first time at its 19th National Congress in October, hailing it as "the latest achievement in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and an important component of the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics."
Upon conclusion of the congress, Xi's thought was written into the party's Constitution as a new guide to action.
Other candidates for inclusion in the bill are a new vision of innovative, coordinated, green and open development for everyone; the five-sphere integrated plan for coordinated economic, political, cultural, social and ecological advancement; the goal of a "great modern socialist country"; and an oath of allegiance to the Constitution.
The following sentence was proposed for inclusion in the Constitution: "The leadership of the Communist Party of China is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics."
"Adding the constitutional provision on upholding and strengthening overall Party leadership, from the perspective of the very nature of China's socialist system, is conducive to boosting the awareness of the Party's leadership among all the Chinese people, effectively integrating the Party's leadership with the entire process and all aspects of the country's work, and ensuring the Party and the country's undertakings always forge ahead in the correct direction," Wang said.
The bill proposed enriching clauses about the patriotic united front, harmonious relations among ethnic groups, and peaceful foreign policies.
Other revisions under deliberation include adding a vision of a community with a shared future for humanity, core socialist values, and granting more cities legislative power.
A revision to a clause concerning the Chinese President's term of office was also proposed.
Many regions, departments, Party officials and the public called for the revision when opinions were being solicited and grass-roots research was being conducted, Wang said.
A new section about supervisory commissions is proposed to be added to the Constitution's third chapter, which is titled "The Structure of the State."
"The addition aims to carry out and embody the spirit of deepening reform of the country's supervisory system and lays down a constitutional basis for setting up supervisory commissions," Wang said.
The CPC Central Committee decided to initiate the constitutional revision at a Political Bureau meeting on Sept 29, and a revision group was set up with Zhang Dejiang as the head and Li Zhanshu and Wang Huning as deputy heads.
"China is at a critical stage to realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation," said Mo Jiangping, a law professor with Southwest University of Political Science and Law.
"China's socialist construction in a new era entails the guidance of theoretical achievements which are in keeping with the times," Mo said. "The constitutional revision will ensure better legal guarantees."
A constitutional change is either proposed by the NPC Standing Committee or by more than one-fifth of all NPC deputies, and then requires the approval of two-thirds or more of NPC deputies during the annual session.
The current draft revision to the Constitution was proposed by the CPC Central Committee and adopted by the NPC Standing Committee in January. It was submitted to the first session of 13th NPC for deliberation on Monday.
Chinese lawmakers will discuss the draft revision in the coming week and vote on its fate on March 11, according to the agenda.