Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday signed and issued an order of special pardons for nine categories of criminals on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC).
The decision of granting the special pardons had been adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, at a bimonthly session which closed Saturday.
The nine categories of criminals who are serving their sentences effective before Jan. 1, 2019, will be pardoned, according to the order. They include:
1. Those who fought in the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the Chinese People's War of Liberation;
2. Those who fought in wars to safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity after the founding of the PRC in 1949;
3. Those who made fairly big contributions to the advancement of the country's major projects after the founding of the PRC and received honors of provincial and ministerial level or above, including "Model Workers," "Advanced Workers," and "May 1 Labor Medals;"
4. Those who used to be on active service and received first class merit citations or higher-level awards;
5. Those who were sentenced to less than three years in prison or have less than one year of remaining prison terms for acts of excessive defense or acts to avert danger in emergencies that exceed the limits of necessity;
6. Those aged 75 or above who have serious physical disabilities and are unable to take care of themselves;
7. Those who committed crimes when they were under 18, and were sentenced to less than three years in prison or have less than one year of remaining prison terms;
8. Female prisoners who have been bereaved of their spouses and have to take care of their underage children or children with serious disabilities who are unable to care for themselves; they are eligible only under the condition that they were sentenced to less than three years in prison or that their remaining jail terms are less than one year;
9. Those granted a parole who have undergone more than one fifth of their parole probation periods, or who received a public surveillance sentence.
Criminals who fall into the above nine categories but are found in any of the following situations shall not be pardoned, according to the order:
1. Those who fall into the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th and 9th categories listed above, but committed embezzlement, acceptance of bribes, servicemen's transgression of duties, intentional homicide, rape, robbery, kidnap, arson, explosion, spreading hazardous substances, organized crimes of violence, mafia-natured organized crimes, trafficking in narcotic drugs, crimes of endangering national security, terrorism, or were convicted as principal criminals or recidivists of other organized crimes;
2. Among criminals falling into the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 9th categories, those who have more than 10 years of remaining prison terms to serve, and who are still serving life imprisonment or in the suspension period of death penalty;
3. Those who had been pardoned but were subject to criminal punishment again for crimes;
4. Those who refused to admit their guilt, repent and mend their ways;
5. Those who are deemed an actual threat to society after evaluation.
Prisoners who meet the above-mentioned requirements on June 29, 2019 will be released upon court ruling, according to the order.
Special pardons this year are the ninth after the founding of the PRC, according to an official with the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee.
From 1949 to 1975, seven special pardons were granted to prisoners including war criminals and counterrevolutionary criminals. In 2015, the country pardoned 31,527 criminals to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War.
China's Constitution has explicit stipulations related to special pardons, the official said when expounding on the decision.
According to Article 80 of the Constitution, the President of the PRC issues orders of special pardons in pursuance of the decisions of the NPC Standing Committee.
It is of great significance to grant special pardons to criminals at the historic moment of the 70th anniversary of the PRC's founding, said the official, adding the move demonstrates the efforts of the Communist Party of China Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core to inherit and carry on the fine traditions of the Chinese civilization including discreet penalty and benevolence.
Moreover, the special pardons can help promote the notion of law-based governance, create a social atmosphere of Constitution-based governance, advance China's rule of law, and promote social harmony and stability, said the official.
The move also demonstrates China's judicial protection of human rights and the country's open, democratic, rule-of-law and culturally advanced image, said the official.
The special pardons must be carried out in accordance with the law and in an active, prudent and orderly manner that honors fairness and justice, the official noted.
The pardoned include both Chinese criminals and those of foreign nationalities, the official added.