|Swearing oath 'vitally important'|
Premier sees the first central government employees make pledge in new ceremony
The State Council held its first ceremony to swear in central government employees on Sunday, with 55 newly appointed officials pledging to uphold the Constitution.
Overseen by Premier Li Keqiang, the group took an oath in front of a red-bound copy of the Constitution in a State Council assembly hall.
All participants stood to sing the national anthem under the Chinese flag before State Councilor Yang Jing started the ceremony.
First to take the oath was Xiao Yaqing, the new minister of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, who placed his left hand on the Constitution and his right hand in the air.
"I do swear that I will be loyal to the Constitution, safeguard its authority and perform my statutory duties. ... I will be loyal to the country and the people, dedicated to my responsibilities," each new appointee said as they read the oath aloud.
"This ceremony is short but vitally important," Li told the officials. "You must abide by the oath you swear today and be dedicated to the commitment with endless efforts."
An executive meeting of the State Council passed a regulation on July 20 to clarify procedures and participants of the oath ceremony, which aims to build a government based on the rule of law and educate all employees to carry forward the spirit of the Constitution.
It came after the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress promulgated a legal document in July 2015 to make all public servants swear an oath to the Constitution.
The oath is a move toward constitutional supervision of all officials, said Jiao Hongchang, a law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law.
Tian Feilong, an associate professor of law at Beihang University, agreed and added that the oath is now a required procedure for all public servants.
Local governments began to swear in new appointments at the end of last year, and Sunday's ceremony shows the procedure has been fully adopted by the central government, which will help to raise awareness of the Constitution and improve the quality of governance, Tian said.
However, the oath is only the first step, he said, adding that the NPC Standing Committee should release more legal documents on interpreting and implementing the Constitution, to safeguard people's legitimate rights.