A Chinese Path to Bringing the Demarcation of Powers and Responsibilities under the Rule of Law

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.2, 2017


A Chinese Path to Bringing the Demarcation of Powers and Responsibilities under the Rule of Law


Liu Jianwen and Hou Zhuo


Facilitating the normalization and legalization of government powers and responsibilities at all levels is an important measure for deepening fiscal and tax reform and building finance and tax governed by the rule of law. At the legal level, China should specify the demarcation of powers and responsibilities among governments at all levels, and should use legal mechanisms to encourage governments at all levels to exercise these powers and responsibilities and to ensure that they do so. Government is endowed with powers and responsibilities in order to effectively ensure the realization of citizens’ basic rights. On the premise of clarifying the boundaries of government functions, it uses legal means to define the range of these responsibilities and powers in accordance with the principle of restraint. The economic standard for the demarcation of powers is even more fundamental; the consequent demarcations are subject to adjustment by legal standards. Government powers can be divided into legislative oversight and regulation and the exercise of powers and responsibilities. The disposition of legislative oversight and regulation under the existing legal system is relatively rational, but its powers, especially of its judicial powers, should be appropriately concentrated at the central government level. The exercise of powers and responsibilities under the existing system leaves room for the demarcation of administrative powers, and the homogenization of powers among different levels of government is quite noticeable. Bringing the demarcation of powers under the rule of law requires the formulation of basic financial law in such a way as to specify the powers of different levels of government. The division of financial powers among governments, optimization of the transfer payment system and the achievement of hard budget constraints are institutional guarantee for the demarcation of powers. Fundamentally, the legal recognition of civilian rights is conducive to the implementation of statutory powers.