Pledge to uphold Constitution will be required of leaders
Revising China's Constitution is an important task for national legislators in this year's two sessions, but the fundamental law will also take on new prominence for the nation's leaders, as they will pledge allegiance to the Constitution.
It's the first time that's been required, said Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the first session of the 13th National People's Congress.
"The Constitution, which reflects the common will of the Communist Party of China and Chinese people, is the country's fundamental law and the general outline for governing the country well and ensuring national security," Zhang said at a news conference on March 4.
"The Constitution can only ensure its lasting vitality by constantly adapting to new situations, drawing on new experiences, confirming new achievements and setting down new norms."
About 3,000 NPC deputies will deliberate on draft constitutional revisions at the session, which opens on Monday. If adopted, the amendments will mark the fundamental law's first revision in 14 years.
This year's NPC session will also see the election of leaders of State organs, who will pledge allegiance to the Constitution, Zhang said.
"It will be the first time for this to be done in the National People's Congress, which will better demonstrate the authority of the Constitution and promote the spirit of the Constitution," he said.
China introduced an oath of allegiance to the Constitution in January 2016, based on a legislative decision passed the previous year. An earlier reshuffle of State leaders took place in March 2013.
At the national level, people required to pledge allegiance are the president and vice-president; leaders and all members of the NPC Standing Committee; the premier, vice-premiers, State councilors, ministers, the governor of the People's Bank of China and the auditor general of the National Audit Office; leaders and members of the Central Military Commission; heads of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate; and leaders of an upcoming national supervisory commission.
Zhang said the principle underlying constitutional amendments should be upholding the leadership of the Communist Party of China and reflecting the will of the people. Any amendments must follow due process, be based on broad consensus and ensure the Constitution's consistency, stability and authority, he said.
The first Constitution of the People's Republic of China was adopted in 1954. The current Constitution has been in place since 1982 and has been amended four times - in 1988, 1993, 1999 and 2004.