Top Chinese officials, including the president and premier, will be required to swear an oath to uphold the country's Constitution before taking office, China's top legislature said on Wednesday.
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) began reviewing the draft constitutional oath bill on Wednesday. The bill stipulates that civil servants directly appointed by the People's Congress at all levels, as well as both government and judicial officials, will be required to swear a constitutional oath before taking office.
This would include future Chinese presidents, vice presidents, premiers, vice premiers, chairmen and vice-chairmen of the NPC, State councilors and ministers.
The bill provides a 65-character oath in which the oath-taker vows to abide by China's Constitution, uphold its authority, behave appropriately, follow the law, be loyal to the country and its people and to strive for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
The bill, however, does not compel all civil servants in China's political system to take the oath. Those who work in Communist Party of China (CPC) organizations, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, non-Communist parties and associations of industry and commerce are not covered by the draft bill and whether they should be required to swear a constitutional oath is still up for discussion, according to Han Xiaowu, deputy secretary-general of the NPC Standing Committee.
"The oath shows China's growing emphasis on the rule of law," Jiang Ming'an, a law professor with Peking University, told the Global Times.
Chinese leaders approved a plan to promote the rule of law that highlights the necessity of upholding the country's Constitution, according to a communiqué released at the end of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in October 2014.
Jiang said the oath is not considered legally binding at the moment but research institutes and the authorities are studying its legal implications. "It could be considered a crime in the future for officials to betray a sworn oath," he said.