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China's Communist Party kicks off key meeting amid HK protests

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

China's ruling CPC today kicked off a key meeting which would deliberate on the "rule of law" for the first time in the Party's history to improve functioning of the much criticised judiciary as authorities struggled to contain pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Over 370 members and alternate members of the Communist Party of China, will attend the three-day meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping here to discuss a vast agenda, including broadening of economic reforms and firming up rule of law in the country.

China is governed by the seven-member Standing Committee of the CPC headed by Xi, who has emerged as the most powerful leader of the country heading the party since he took over power last year unlike his predecessor Hu Jintao who got to head the military only two years into power.

The main theme of the meeting is to deliberate on a draft decision of the CPC Central Committee on "major issues concerning comprehensively advancing rule of law," state-run Xinhua agency reported.

The decision is widely expected to set the tone for the CPC to promote rule of law in China under new circumstances.

Analysts said that the changes would be aimed to broaden the independence of the judiciary specially dealing with individual cases instead of routinely backing the local government machinery.

A more independent judiciary was expected to address the growing resentment among public over lack of judicial redressal analysts appearing on the state CCTV said.

This is the first time a plenary session of the CPC Central Committee has taken rule of law as its central theme.

Also the unrelenting pro-democracy protests and slowdown of the Chinese economy which was expected to miss the official 7.5 percent target were expected to be discussed.

Reports in the Hong Kong media said that the meeting of the elite members was expected to discuss the ongoing corruption cases against some of the top retired leaders.

Over 70,000 officials have been prosecuted since last year including Zhou Yangkong, member of the powerful Standing Committee under Hu.

The country's reform has entered a critical stage and a deep water zone, officials said warning of "a complicated and changing international situation."

The gravity of the CPC's undertakings in safeguarding China's reform, development and stability is thus unprecedented, and so is the multiplicity of the contradictions, risks and challenges it faces, officials said.

"Rule of law will henceforth play an ever more prominent and important role in the overall work of the Party and the government," they said.

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First Published: Mon, October 20 2014. 15:00 IST