A Rule of Law Approach to the Division of Authority of Office in China

Social Sciences in China

Vol. 40, No. 3, 2019


A Rule of Law Approach to the Division of Authority of Office in China



Liu Jianwen and Hou Zhuo


Making the authority of office of government at all levels more standardized and law- based is an important step in the process of deepening financial reform and establishing fiscal and taxation systems governed by law. To do so, China needs to clarify further the legal division of authority of government at every level and protect and promote its exercise through legal mechanisms. Governments are given powers so that they may effectively protect citizens’ basic interests. On the premise of clarifying the boundaries of government functions, we should use legal means and observe the principle of restraint in determining the scope of authority of office. The criteria for the division have both economic and legal aspects. Economic criteria are more basic; legal criteria make adjustments to the pattern of division derived from economic criteria. The authority of office can be divided into legislative supervision and enforcement. The current legal system allocates powers of legislative supervision quite rationally, but supervision of judicial powers in particular should be appropriately centralized. In terms of enforcement, some space is left for the division of administrative powers in the current system, and there is quite obvious homogeneity of powers between different levels of government. The legal division of authority of office requires that basic principles be stipulated in the Constitution and that a basic fiscal law be devised that clarifies the powers of all levels of government. Allocation of fiscal powers between governments and optimization of the transfer payment system, together with budget constraints, will provide an institutional guarantee for the division of these powers. Fundamentally, the legal confirmation of a system of civil rights can promote the implementation of statutory powers.


Keywords: fiscal and taxation systems, division of authority of office, basic rights, rule of law, state governance