The new “Opinions” on how courts should work in the countryside, of which we offer a full translation, calls for a crackdown on unauthorized religions.
by Hu Zimo
On July 26, 2021, the Supreme People’s Court published the “Opinions on Providing Judicial Services and Protection for Accelerating the Modernization of Agriculture and Rural Areas.”
We offer a translation of this text, which is interesting as it shows the judicialization and strict control of the agricultural development campaigns in rural areas. Great care is recommended to prevent that under the pretext of rural development the leadership of the Party and the devotion to President Xi Jinping may be weakened.
There is a provision to protect the historical heritage in rural areas, but insofar as it is an expression of the “excellent Chinese culture,” which is a code word for the Chinese culture as interpreted by the CCP, and has often led to the destruction of religiously significant building as not “excellent.”
Even more interesting is that fighting illegal religions and xie jiao (i.e., religious movements banned as “heterodox teachings”) is seen as an integral part of rural development.
The Supreme Court ask in no. 9 of the Opinions to “Intensify the punishment of illegal religious activities and overseas infiltration activities in rural areas, crack down on organizing and using xie jiao organizations to commit crimes, and prevent the infiltration of xie jiao into rural areas. Work with relevant departments to establish and improve the mechanism of rural emergency management work, to stop the use of religion and xie jiao to interfere in rural public affairs in accordance with the law, and to promote the stabilization of rural grass-roots power.”
A full translation of the Opinions follows.
Opinions on Providing Judicial Services and Protection for Accelerating the Modernization of Agriculture and Rural Areas
In order to thoroughly implement the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speeches at the Central Rural Work Conference and at the conference celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, fully implement the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Plenary Sessions of the 19th CPC Central Committee, fully implement the Opinions of the CPC Central Committee and State Council on Comprehensively Promoting Rural Revitalization and Accelerating Agricultural and Rural Modernization, and the Opinions of the CPC Central Committee and State Council on Realizing the Consolidation and Expansion to fully implement the “Opinions of the State Council of the CPC Central Committee on Comprehensively Promoting Rural Revitalization and Accelerating Agricultural and Rural Modernization” and “Opinions of the State Council of the CPC Central Committee on Consolidating and Expanding the Achievements of Poverty Alleviation and Rural Revitalization,” give full play to the function of the People’s Courts, provide strong judicial services and guarantee for comprehensively promoting rural revitalization and accelerating agricultural and rural modernization, we put forward the following opinions.
First, unify the ideological understanding and accurately grasp the overall requirements of providing judicial services for comprehensively promoting rural revitalization and accelerating agricultural and rural modernization.
1. Correctly grasp the guiding ideology of providing judicial services for comprehensively promoting rural revitalization and accelerating the modernization of agriculture and rural areas. Comprehensively promoting rural revitalization and accelerating agricultural and rural modernization is a major strategic plan made by the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core. People’s Courts at all levels should adhere to the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, thoroughly implement the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech at the Central Rural Work Conference, comprehensively implement the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Plenary Sessions of the 19th CPC Central Committee, implement the spirit of the Central Rural Work Conference, enhance the “Four Consciousnesses,” firmly apply “four self-confidence,” to achieve “two maintenance,” based on the new development stage, complete, accurate, comprehensive implementation of the new development concept, build a new development pattern, promote high-quality development, adhere to the general tone of “seeking progress in a stable manner,” strengthen the Party’s support, strengthen the Party’s overall leadership of the “three rural” work, prioritize the development of agriculture and rural areas, for the comprehensive construction of a modern socialist country to start with a good start, a good start to provide strong judicial services and protection.
2. Deeply understand the significance of providing judicial services to comprehensively promote rural revitalization and accelerate the modernization of agriculture and rural areas. Since the 18th Party Congress, the Party Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, has insisted on addressing the “three rural issues” as the top priority of the Party’s work. At the historical juncture of the second hundred-year goal of building a modern socialist power, consolidating and expanding the achievements of poverty eradication, comprehensively promoting the revitalization of the countryside, and accelerating the modernization of agriculture and rural areas are major issues concerning the overall situation. People’s Courts at all levels should fully understand the importance and urgency of doing a good job in the “three rural areas” at the new development stage, insist on making judicial service and protection of the “three rural areas” a top priority, take effective measures to promote rural revitalization, promote high quality and high efficiency of agriculture, make the countryside livable and friendly, and promote the development of the rural areas. We will take effective measures to promote the revitalization of the countryside and promote high quality and high efficiency of agriculture, livability and happiness of the countryside, and prosperity of farmers.
3. Precisely align with the goal of providing judicial services to comprehensively promote rural revitalization and accelerate the modernization of agriculture and rural areas. During the “14th Five-Year Plan” period, China will enter a new stage of development. People’s Courts at all levels should establish and improve the work system that is consistent up and down and in the end, focus on the objectives and tasks, compact responsibilities, supervise and inspect, incorporate the services to consolidate and expand the results of poverty eradication into the overall work of trial execution, and promote the People’s Courts to serve and guarantee the implementation of the policies and initiatives to comprehensively promote rural revitalization and speed up the modernization of agriculture and rural areas.
Second, stabilize the foundation of agricultural development and promote high quality and efficiency of agriculture.
4. Punish illegal and criminal acts involving important agricultural products in accordance with the law, and promote the implementation of important agricultural products protection strategy. Adhere to the policy of strict punishment according to the law, strictly and quickly punish smuggling of rice, corn, sugar, and other agricultural products, maintain a high pressure to combat the smuggling of important agricultural products, to protect the people’s food and health safety and the quality of agricultural products. Crack down on overdose and excesses of drugs, illegal use of raw materials, non-implementing the interval rest period and other illegal acts, strengthen the effective interface between administrative law enforcement and criminal justice, and promote the governance of pesticide and veterinary drug residues to protect the people’s “safety on the tip of the tongue.” Continue to promote the punishment of the production and sale of fake seeds, fake fertilizers, fake pesticides, and other shoddy agricultural crime, to protect the safety of food and important agricultural products supply, to protect the order of agricultural production and operation, and help promote the quality of agriculture.
5. Implement the strictest arable land protection system to ensure national food security. Crack down on criminal acts of destruction of land resources, and legally determine that contracts such as illegal occupation of arable land for building houses are invalid, and support administrative organs to carry out administrative enforcement of land in accordance with the law. Actively cooperate with the relevant departments to promote special rectification actions for the construction of houses on indiscriminately occupied arable land in rural areas, and increase the enforcement of money payment obligations in the effective decisions and administrative penalties for illegal acts involving the construction of houses on indiscriminately occupied arable land, and resolutely curb the “non-agriculturalization” of arable land and prevent the “non-foodization.” The government has also been making efforts to enforce the law. Integrate the role of criminal, civil and administrative trial functions, promote the control of arable land pollution, and adhere to the red line of 1.8 billion mu of arable land.
6. Trial of rural land contracting cases should be in accordance with the law, to promote the development of modern agriculture. In accordance with the requirements of “implementing collective ownership, stabilizing farmers’ contracting rights, and liberalizing land management rights,” we will hear disputes over the “three rights” of rural land in accordance with the law, promote the improvement of a two-tier management system based on family contracting and unified division, and ensure that rural land courts will hear cases involving disputes over the “three rights to land management” in rural areas, promote the improvement of the two-tier management system based on family contract management and the combination of unified and divided management, ensure the stability and longevity of rural land contracting relationships, and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of farmers’ collectives, contract farmers and management entities. We will hear disputes involving mortgages on land management rights and land management rights transfer contracts in accordance with the law, ensure the orderly transfer of rural land management rights, promote the cultivation of family farms and the quality improvement of farmers’ cooperatives, and help the construction of modern agricultural management systems.
7. Increase the judicial protection of agricultural-related intellectual property rights, and promote the progress and innovation of agricultural science and technology. Strengthen the trial of agricultural-related intellectual property cases, increase the judicial protection of intellectual property rights of key core technologies of agriculture such as seed source “necks,” stimulate innovation and promote the self-reliance and self-improvement of agricultural science and technology. We will hear cases of infringement of new plant variety rights in accordance with the law, uphold the judicial concept of rights protection, expand the scope of legal protection for breeding innovations, and promote breeding innovations through judicial means. Strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights in the seed industry, enhance communication and cooperation with relevant departments, promote effective connection between judicial protection and administrative protection, and promote high quality and efficiency cooperation. Strengthen the judicial protection of intellectual property rights of the seed industry in the “Silicon Valley of Southern Propagation,” promote the construction of seed production bases and breeding systems, promote the cultivation of superior varieties, quality improvement, brand building and standardized production, and enhance the intrinsic power of independent innovation in the seed industry.
8. Strengthen the judicial protection of agricultural ecology and environment, and promote the green development of agriculture. Adhere to the concept of ecological priority and green development, give full play to the leading and forcing role of ecological environmental protection, promote desertification, rock desertification, and sloping soil erosion comprehensive management, agricultural surface pollution management, key areas of groundwater protection and overdraft management, increase the judicial protection of black land to continuously improve environmental quality to promote the overall green transformation of rural economic and social development. Increase the punishment of environmental pollution and ecological damage related to agriculture, to ensure the protection of the ecological environment and “the strictest rule of law’s” effective implementation, to maintain agricultural ecological security. The trial of disputes involving environmental pollution and ecological damage in rural areas, as well as civil and administrative public interest litigation cases, should be carried out by adhering to the concept of “green water and green mountains is the silver mountain,” strengthening environmental management and ecological restoration work, and exploring diversified ways to assume responsibility. Guarantee lawful trial of the Yangtze River, the Yellow River and other key waters’ ban on fishing cases, give full play to the effectiveness of judicial cooperation in the watershed, and continue to promote the overall protection and systematic management of the ecological environment of large rivers and rivers.
Third, help rural construction action, to create a livable and beautiful countryside.
9. Implement the overall national security concept, and promote harmony and stability in the countryside. Continuously promote the normalization of the fight against black forces and evil in rural areas, and strictly punish the clan evil forces and “village hegemony,” “city hegemony,” “line hegemony,” “road hegemony,” and other rural black and evil forces, and constantly enhance the people’s sense of security. Punish crimes against children left behind in rural areas, women and the elderly, as well as people with disabilities and children in difficulty in accordance with the law, increase judicial protection for special vulnerable groups such as children left behind in rural areas, women and the elderly, as well as people with disabilities and children in difficulty, and strengthen care services for children left behind in rural areas, women and the elderly, as well as people with disabilities and children in difficulty. Intensify the punishment of illegal religious activities and overseas infiltration activities in rural areas, crack down on organizing and using xie jiao organizations to commit crimes, and prevent the infiltration of xie jiao into rural areas. Work with relevant departments to establish and improve the mechanism of rural emergency management work, to stop the use of religion and xie jiao to interfere in rural public affairs in accordance with the law, and to promote the stabilization of rural grass-roots power.
10. Organize to fight the battle of pollution prevention and control, and promote the improvement and upgrading of the rural habitat. Around the overall goal of fighting the battle of pollution prevention and control, perform its duties in accordance with the law, support rural areas to promote the special action of domestic waste treatment, and promote the improvement of the rural habitat environment. In view of the outstanding problems reflected by the public, such as sewage, black smelly water and garbage pollution in rural areas, we will hear relevant cases fairly and efficiently according to the law, use judicial means to promote the improvement of ecological and environmental quality, and help promote village cleaning and greening actions.
11. Properly hear cases involving infrastructure construction disputes in rural areas, helping to make up for the shortcomings and weaknesses of rural development. Hear cases in accordance with the law involving major infrastructure construction projects in rural areas, such as highways, passenger and cargo railroads, water conservancy, electric power, airports, communication networks, etc., to continuously promote the improvement of infrastructure conditions in rural areas. Hear cases involving rural resources roads, industrial roads, tourism roads and other construction disputes in accordance with the law, and continue to promote the construction of “four good rural roads.” Hear disputes over the construction of agricultural products and food storage and preservation, cold chain logistics facilities in rural areas in accordance with the law, and support the development and growth of rural special industries.
12. Increase the judicial protection of historical and cultural heritage in rural areas, and promote the inheritance of excellent history and culture. Hear cases of destruction of famous historical and cultural towns and villages, cultural relics, historical buildings and traditional villages, traditional dwellings and other rural material cultural heritage in accordance with law, and increasing judicial protection of rural material cultural heritage. Comprehensive use of a variety of means to promote the inheritance and development and utilization of intangible cultural heritage in rural areas.
13. Promote the reform of market-oriented allocation of rural elements and stimulate the endogenous power of rural development. We will prudently hear cases of disputes over collective business construction land, promote the exploration and implementation of a market entry system for rural collective business construction land, help promote the market-oriented allocation of land elements, and advance the reform of the rural land system. In accordance with national policies and relevant guidelines, distinguish between pilot areas and non-pilot areas identified by the State for the reform of the residential base system, properly handle disputes arising from mortgage guarantees and transfers of residential base use rights in accordance with the law, protect the rights and interests of the parties concerned in accordance with the law, and help promote the reform of the rural residential base system. Further promote the connection between mediation and arbitration of labor and personnel disputes and litigation, properly hear labor disputes involving migrant workers, support the market allocation of labor and other factors, guide the reasonable, smooth and orderly flow of labor factors, and promote the improvement of the rules of factor trading.
14. Play the role of leading and value-oriented judicial adjudication rules to promote civilization of the countryside. Take the implementation of the Civil Code as an opportunity to strengthen the reasoning of adjudication documents, and promote the integration of socialist core values into the interpretation of laws and regulations of adjudication documents, so as to promote the transformation of socialist core values into the people’s emotional identity and behavioral habits. Implement the “implementation of the new era of civic morality,” adhere to the core socialist values into the judicial work, make the masses happy to see the way to strengthen the interpretation of the law and the rule of law publicly, enforce the rule of law to vigorously promote the true good and beauty, to combat the false and the ugly, to promote the law and morality of the people.
Fourth, the implementation of agricultural policies to make farmers rich and prosperous.
15. Punish crimes involving agricultural investment and agricultural subsidies according to the law, to ensure that the policy benefits farmers and rich farmers on the ground. Crack down on misappropriation, misappropriation, embezzlement of agricultural investment funds, promote the management and standardized use of funds related to agriculture, to ensure the effective use of agricultural investment. Punish in accordance with the law, retaining, squeezing out agricultural subsidies, to ensure that agricultural support policies are put into practice, to ensure that agricultural subsidies really benefit farmers. Punish in accordance with the law the collective asset management, land acquisition, and other areas of illegal criminal behavior, promote the development of rural grassroots micro-corruption rectification, and constantly improve the happiness of the peasants.
16. Actively carry out special actions to eradicate unpaid wages and protect the legitimate rights and interests of migrant workers in accordance with the law. Increase the trial and enforcement of cases of wage arrears in public infrastructure construction in poverty-removing areas, especially in the field of food-for-work infrastructure construction in poverty-removing areas, and effectively improve the quality and efficiency of work to eradicate wage arrears of migrant workers. To strengthen the protection of the rights and interests of migrant workers in labor-intensive processing and manufacturing industries, maintain a high-pressure situation in the fight against non-payment of wages, further strengthen the cooperation between labor security supervision and law enforcement and criminal justice, impartially hear criminal cases of refusal to pay labor remuneration in accordance with the law, and effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of migrant workers.
17. Protect the legitimate rights and interests of farmers who settle in the city in accordance with the law, and constantly improve the sense of access and happiness of the farmers. In accordance with the law, we protect the right to contracted land management, the right to use residential bases, and the right to collective income distribution of farmers who have settled in cities. The People’s Courts may, through judicial means, support and protect the transfer of the contracted land management rights within the collective economic organization or the return of the contracted land to the collective economic organization in accordance with the principle of voluntary compensation.
18. Increase the enforcement of livelihood cases to effectively protect the basic livelihood of farmers. Increase the efforts to enforce cases of labor compensation, alimony, maintenance, foster care, pension, medical expenses, traffic accident personal injury compensation, and work injury insurance benefits, and effectively safeguard the basic rights and interests of farmers’ survival. For the execution of cases where the executor is unable to perform and the applicant is facing difficulties in survival, make full use of judicial assistance funds to provide timely judicial assistance to the applicant who meets the conditions for assistance.
Fifth, adhere to the orientation of strong foundation, and actively serve to comprehensively promote rural revitalization and grassroots governance.
19. Increase the supply of judicial resources in rural areas and continuously strengthen the construction of People’s Courts. We will conscientiously implement the spirit of the Fourth National Conference on People’s Courts, make strengthening the construction of people’s courts and serving to comprehensively promote rural revitalization and grass-roots governance as a long-term task, promote new development of People’s Courts, and facilitate the construction of a new pattern of grass-roots governance. Adhere to the strong base orientation, reform and optimize the layout of the People’s Courts, set up special circuit courts around the characteristics of conflicts and disputes in accordance with local conditions, and provide more precise and refined judicial services to solve the “three rural” disputes. Improve the People’s Courts circuit system, reasonably set up roving case sites and litigation service points, and do a good job of roving trials, to minimize the masses’ burden of litigation. Give full play to the functions of the People’s Courts, closely follow the needs of municipal and county governance, and actively participate in grassroots governance to achieve peace and prosperity for the people, social stability and order, and long-term peace for the country.
20. Strengthen the guidance of various types of mediation organizations to effectively enhance the level of grassroots governance. Continuously strengthen cooperation with public security, justice, mediation and arbitration of labor disputes, arbitration of rural land contracts, people’s mediation committees and other grass-roots state organs, grass-roots mass self-governance organizations, industry mediation organizations, etc., in accordance with the principle of “not missing, not overstepping, not missing,” and effectively perform the statutory duty of guiding people’s mediation work. In addition, actively do a good job of judicial confirmation and other litigation and non-litigation dispute resolution mechanisms. Strengthen the guidance of various mediation organizations, further promote the institutionalization and standardization of construction, and constantly improve the quality and effectiveness of mediation work, and actively enhance the rule of law at the grassroots level of governance.
21. Focus on the diversified settlement of conflicts and disputes, and effectively resolve conflicts in the bud. Adhere to the non-litigation dispute resolution mechanism in front, and actively promote the prevention and resolution of conflicts and disputes at source. Adhere to and develop the “Maple Bridge Experience” in the new era, strengthen the interface with grass-roots party organizations, political and legal units, and grass-roots mass self-governance organizations, and promote the formation of synergies to maximize the resolution of conflicts at the grass-roots level. Actively play the function of one-stop litigation service center to resolve disputes, promote family disputes, neighboring relations, traffic accidents, medical disputes, consumer rights protection and other disputes through mediation, arbitration and other ways to one-stop solution. Promote the work of People’s Courts in villages, communities and grids, rely on the mediation platform of People’s Courts, build a graded and progressive path to prevent and resolve conflicts and disputes at source by “bringing in” and “going out,” and promote local discovery, local mediation and local resolution of conflicts and disputes. The People’s Courts have been established as the fulcrum of the People’s Courts. Explore the establishment of a grass-roots prevention and governance mechanism that takes the People’s Court as the fulcrum and accurately connects with village committees and other grass-roots governance forces in rural society, further optimize the functions of the information platform of the People’s Court, establish an online flow mechanism for the collection, processing and feedback of grass-roots conflicts and disputes in rural areas, and enhance the effectiveness of the information platform in resolving disputes.
22. Strengthen the publicity and education on the rule of law in rural areas, and create a good environment for the construction of the rule of law in rural areas. Increase the popularization of the law and the interpretation of the law by case, in-depth publicity and the laws and regulations closely related to the masses of farmers, and promote the formation of the behavior of “doing things according to the law, find the law in case of trouble” consciously. Make full use of the “12-4” National Constitution Day, Constitution Awareness Week and other time nodes and farmers’ fairs, temples and other organizations to carry out rule of law publicity and education activities to promote the masses of farmers to “learn the law, believe in the law, use the law.” Promote the rule of law culture and folk culture, the organic integration of local culture, the creation of local cultural characteristics, the masses like to see the rule of law cultural works, to help carry out mass rule of law cultural activities, and actively promote the construction of the rule of law countryside.
Sixth, deepen reform and innovation, and continue to improve the service “three rural” work mechanism.
23. Adhere to the principle of orderly adjustment, smooth transition, and promote the consolidation of services to expand the results of poverty alleviation and rural revitalization policies effectively. Around the successive promotion of the development of areas out of poverty and the comprehensive revitalization of the countryside, solidly promote the convergence of service policies to ensure that no gaps are left in the work, and enhance the stability of service protection policies. According to the changes in the situation and tasks, reasonably grasp the rhythm and strength, introduce and optimize service protection initiatives to ensure that no gaps are left in the policies. Precisely match the judicial needs of the people in the areas out of poverty, and gradually realize the change from “two worries and three guarantees” to rural industrial prosperity, ecological livability, civilized countryside, effective governance, rich living service initiatives.
24. Pay more attention to the system concept, and constantly improve the quality and effectiveness of service work. We will implement the systemic concept to serve the whole process of comprehensively promoting rural revitalization and accelerating the modernization of agriculture and rural areas, focus on the objectives and tasks, strengthen forward-looking thinking, global planning and overall promotion, focus on filling the shortcomings and strengthening the weaknesses, and continuously promote the quality and effectiveness of the services of the People’s Courts. Focus on the service of poverty-eradication areas to consolidate and expand the results of poverty eradication and rural revitalization goals and tasks, focus on solving outstanding contradictions and problems, strengthen the innovation of service initiatives fully linkage and articulation support, and effectively enhance the comprehensive effectiveness of services.
25. Adhere to the problem-oriented, and actively improve the convenience of the people and the people’s judicial initiatives. In accordance with the Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Authorizing the Supreme People’s Court to Carry out Pilot Work of Reforming the Complexity and Simplicity of Civil Procedures in Some Areas and the Notice of the Supreme People’s Court on Issuing the Implementation Measures of the Pilot Reform of the Complexity and Simplicity of Civil Procedures, the People’s Courts in the pilot areas should actively optimize the judicial confirmation procedures, small-scale litigation procedures and summary procedures for disputes involving agriculture. Sound trial organization model, explore the implementation of electronic litigation online trial mechanism, effectively reduce the cost of litigation, and promote judicial efficiency. Adhere to the needs of the masses-oriented, and constantly upgrade the one-stop litigation service center, so that litigation services to the rural areas, to the online extension, to provide the parties with “one-stop, one-net, one-stop, one-stop” convenient and efficient, intelligent and accurate litigation services. The construction of one-stop litigation service center, so that the parties to a place, a platform can be one-stop litigation matters.
26. Comprehensively deepen the construction of smart courts and empower the People’s Courts to serve the “three rural areas” with technology. Make full use of the major opportunities for the construction of a strong network and digital China during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, actively explore the use of big data, blockchain and other technologies to provide strong technical support for judicial work, strengthen the digital and intelligent construction of public services and grassroots governance in rural areas, and improve the level of information and intelligence of judicial work. Build a systematic and complete system of online litigation rules, promote online support for the whole process of handling cases, intelligent assistance for the whole process, and all-round information disclosure, and improve the convenience, efficiency and transparency of judicial resolution of disputes related to agriculture. Accelerate the modernization of the trial system and trial capacity, and continuously improve the level of ability of the People’s Courts to serve the comprehensive promotion of rural revitalization and accelerate the modernization of agriculture and rural areas.