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CHINA LEGAL SCIENCE 2020年第5期|中国法律奖励制度七十年发展研究:历程、规模与启示
日期:20-09-30 来源: 作者:zzs

THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHINA’S LEGAL REWARD SYSTEM OVER 70 YEARS: HISTORY, SCALE AND ENLIGHTENMENT


Feng Fei


TABLE OF CONTENTS


I. INTRODUCTION

II. THE 70-YEAR HISTORICAL PROCESS OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHINA’S LEGAL REWARD SYSTEM


A. The Start-Up of China’s Legal Reward System (1949-1965)

B. The Silence of China’s Legal Reward System (1966-1977)

C. The Recovery of China’s Legal Reward System (1978-1997)

D. The Prosperity of China’s Legal Reward System (1998-2014)

E. A New Era of China’s Legal Reward System (2015-)


III. THE SCALE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 70-YEAR DEVELOPMENT OF CHINA’S LEGAL REWARD SYSTEM


A. The Content of the Legal Reward System

B. Geographical Distribution of the Legal Reward System

C. The Correlative Structure of the Legal Reward System


IV. THE EXPERIENCE AND ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE 70-YEAR DEVELOPMENT OF CHINA’S LEGAL REWARD SYSTEM


A. The Leadership of the Communist Party of China Has Always Been the Key to Promoting the Development of the Legal Reward System

B. Not Only Punishment System But Also the Incentive System

C. Reform Is the Keystone of the Development of the Legal Reward System

D. The Legal Reward System Is a Model That Combines the Rule of Law with Rule by Virtue

E. The Legal Reward System Is a Boost to Economic Growth

F. The Legal Reward System Is the Focus of the Construction of the Local Rule of Law

G. The Development Prospects of the Legal Reward System



China’s legal reward system has developed over 70 years, undergoing five stages: start-up, silence, recovery, prosperity, and renewal. It has exhibited remarkable achievements and scale characteristics in the areas of content, region and systems. The development of the legal reward system over 70 years represents not only great achievements in the construction of the rule of law in China but also the accumulation of experience, support and theoretical enlightenment, the achievement of system confidence, and the realization of modernization under the rule of law. The rapid development of the legal reward system will surely be an important force in advancing the construction of the rule of law in China and modernizing the governance system and governance capabilities of the country.


I. INTRODUCTION


As the old sayings go, ‘only rewards and punishments are required for state  affairs’, and ‘those who reward and punish are the sharp weapons of the state’. In modern society, ‘the law is the most important tool in governing the country’, and both punishment and reward belong to the rule of law. Therefore, the legal reward system is an important aspect that cannot be ignored in the construction of the rule of law. In China, the law of reward has existed since ancient times; it has also undergone recent development and has been continuously improved since 1949. Since the reform and opening up, legislation that clearly includes rewards has formed into a complex group with the Constitution as its core, involving the development of a collective economy, non-public economic development, education, scientific and technological progress, medical and health services, environmental protection, labor and work, and scientific, educational, literary and artistic innovation, basically covering all fields of socialist development. A series of laws, regulations, measures, and opinions have been issued one after another according to constitutional provisions. Regulations are searched under the title of ‘reward’ on the Peking University Legal Information Network, and the results show that as of April 1, 2020, 601 central laws and regulations are currently in force, including 33 administrative regulations, 514 departmental regulations, two party regulations, seven judicial interpretations, 15 group regulations and 30 industry regulations. A total of 10,073 local laws and regulations are currently in force, including 42 local laws and regulations, 168 local government rules, 4,462 local regulatory documents, 5,371 local working documents, eight local judicial documents, and 22 administrative approval documents. If the content of the documents for retrieval is expanded, there are 17,664 legal documents at the central level (14,227 currently effective) and up to 199,367 local legal documents (176,910 currently effective). If we use ‘bonus’, ‘honor’, ‘commendation’, ‘encouragement’, ‘promotion’, and ‘incentive’ as keywords to search, we see a larger accumulation of legal incentives focusing on ‘legal reward’. It is essential to perform more detailed observations as we face the enormous legal incentive empire. The summary of the development of the legal reward system over the past 70 years is not only a review of China’s achievements in the construction of the rule of law but also a prediction of future trends in China’s rule of law.


II. THE 70-YEAR HISTORICAL PROCESS OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHINA’S LEGAL REWARD SYSTEM


The legal reward system is an indispensable and important branch of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, an important aspect of the construction of the rule of law in China, and an embodiment of the achievements of the development of China’s legal theory. Therefore, the development process of China’s legal reward system, the construction of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, the construction of the rule of law in China and the development of China’s legal science have shared the same track. However, different researchers often have different views on the rule of law in China and the 70-year process of legal development. For example, there is a ‘two-paragraph theory’ that divides the 70-year historical process into the first 30 years with a planned economic system and the last 40 years with a market economy system; a ‘three-paragraph theory’ divides it into the 30 years before the founding of the new China (1949-1978), the period of reform and opening up (1978-2012), and the era of socialism with Chinese characteristics (2012); and there is a ‘four-paragraph theory’ that divides it into four periods: 1949-1977, 1978-1997, 1998-2011, and 2012 to the present. Therefore, if the historical progress of the legal system, the construction of the rule of law, and the development of legal science are regarded as the course of the development of China’s legal reward system, it might obscure the practical laws of the development of the legal reward system. Therefore, in the author’s view, the analysis of the development process of China’s legal reward system must be based on an examination of the institutional text, an empirical explanation of its historical progress on the basis of data, and a discovery of its internal laws. The author used ‘reward’ as a title and keyword to search China’s laws and regulations and generated the following two figures (Figure 1 and Figure 2). According to fluctuations in the data, the development process of China’s legal reward system over the past 70 years has been divided into five stages: start-up, silence, recovery, prosperity, and renewal.


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A. The Start-Up of China’s Legal Reward System (1949-1965)


The years from 1949 to 1965 represented the initial period of China’s legal reward system. During this period, there were ten central legal documents and one local legal document with the word ‘reward’ in the title and 154 legal documents at the central level and 17 at the local level with content related to ‘rewards’. According to the retrieved data, the earliest law containing content related to rewards was the Common Program of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, promulgated in 1949, which states, ‘Reward scientific discoveries and inventions and popularize scientific knowledge’, ‘Reward excellent society scientific works’, and ‘Reward outstanding literary and artistic works’. The earliest administrative regulation with the word ‘reward’ in the title was the Decision of the State Council on Rewarding Inventions, Technical Improvements, and Rationalization Proposals on Production issued in August 1950. The earliest departmental regulation was the Interim Measures for Incentive Funds for State-owned Enterprises, which was issued by the Finance and Economic Committee of the State Council in January 1951. The earliest and only local normative document at this stage was the Measures for Reward and Punishment of Students in Beijing Technical School, which was issued by the Beijing Labor Bureau in 1962.


During this period, China’s legal reward system had just begun, and there are some main features of this stage. First, the number of legislative documents was small, and content related to rewards was concentrated. Except for the State Council’s Reward Measures for the Resettlement of Demobilized Soldiers of 1956 and the National Highest Records Reward System for Various Sports of 1963, the other eight central legal documents with the word ‘reward’ in the title all related to invention and technology improvement rewards or work performance rewards. Second, the central legislative guidance was unified, and local legislative norms were scarce. In the 70-year development process of China’s legal reward system, this is the only stage during which there were far more central legal documents than local legal documents. This feature is consistent with the creation of a new people’s democratic dictatorship the characteristics of the new legal era and the planned economic system at the time.


Although the construction of the legal reward system in our country was relatively limited during this period, it had some groundbreaking impacts, mainly in the following two areas. First, a legal reward system with symbolic significance was initially established. On the basis of system implementation experience, captured in documents such as the Decision of the State Council on Rewarding Inventions, Technical Improvements, and Rationalization Proposals on Production of 1951 and the Interim Regulations on Rewards for Inventions, Technical Improvements and Rationalization Suggestions for Production of 1954, the State Council promulgated the Invention Rewards Regulations and the Technical Improvements Rewards Regulations on November 3, 1963, establishing the central text of the legal reward system in its initial stage. It was at this stage that the number of scientific research institutions nationwide increased from more than 30 at the beginning of the founding of the New China to more than 1,700, and the number of personnel specializing in scientific research increased from fewer than 500 to 120,000. Great achievements were made in the development of science and technology: China’s first electron tube computer was successfully trial-produced, semiconductor triodes and diodes were successively produced, the theory of ‘Terrestrial Facies of Petroleum’ was proposed, the anti-sigma negative hyperon was discovered, the first atomic bomb was exploded successfully, the first self-designed carrier rocket was successfully launched, and bovine insulin was artificially synthesized for the first time anywhere. Second, the central connotation of ‘reward’ as a legal category was initially defined. In the Chinese context, reward means encouragement, and the original meaning was the same as encouragement. However, when reward entered the context of the legal system, it was more related to ‘honor or property given for encouragement or praise’, especially a ‘bonus’. On the one hand, in the general principles of the Interim Regulations on Rewards for Inventions, Technical Improvements and Rationalization Suggestions for Production of 1954, reward and bonus are linked together, and the whole document stipulates the standards, time limits, calculation and payment methods for ‘bonuses’. The ‘reward’ chapters in the Invention Rewards Regulations and Technical Improvements Rewards Regulations also provide ‘honorary awards’ with monetary rewards, which are often expressed in specific provisions as ‘giving praise or rewards’ for a certain behavior, so it is easy to have a narrow materialized understanding of reward. On the other hand, reward-related items originally appearing in the Common Program of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference were replaced by the words ‘encourage’ and ‘help’ in the Constitution of 1954 to distinguish them from the ‘bonus’ involved in a ‘reward’. Such a narrow expression of ‘reward’ in the legal system caused legal researchers to ignore the theoretical issues in the legal reward system for a long time and caused path dependence and contextual restrictions on the subsequent development of China’s legal incentive system and theory.


B. The Silence of China’s Legal Reward System (1966-1977)


The years from 1966 to 1977 represent a period of depression in the development of the rule of law in China and a silent period for the legal reward system. Neither the central government nor the local government formulated any legal documents with the word ‘reward’ in their titles during this period. There were only nine central legal documents and two local legal documents that contained content related to rewards. Compared with the legal documents in the first stage, these legal documents were not high in level or narrow in scope, and the provisions for ‘reward’ were also extremely simple and general. However, if we completely incorporate them into the first stage, because of the overall stagnation of the development of the legal system, the continuity of the historical process of system development will be artificially divided. If we do not pay attention to the phenomenon of system silence in this stage, we will not be able to find the accumulation of potential energy for system construction, and we will not be able to truly understand the starting point for and path orientation of system recovery. Therefore, although this stage is the silent period of China’s legal reward system in terms of the volume of system construction, it is also a period of progress for China’s legal reward system in terms of the historical process underlying the development of the whole system.


There are two characteristics of the stagnation of the development of China’s legal reward system in this period. The first is diluted material rewards. Affected by political factors, the legal reward regulations formulated in this period no longer focused on bonus clauses as they did in the previous stage, and they even negated the material reward method represented by bonuses. Political factors were the main factors causing the silence of the legal reward system during this period. The second characteristic is the attention paid to spiritual rewards. In contrast to the dilution and even criticism of material rewards in the legal system, spiritual rewards received unprecedented attention at the level of social governance, and an incentivized surge of the phrase ‘to be excellent’ is apparent in all areas of society. The emphasis on spiritual and moral incentives and the neglect of legal incentives were related to the methods of governance at the time, which were ‘relying on the rule of humans, relying on policies, relying on morality and relying on mass movements’. These two characteristics also constitute the starting factors for the re-development of China’s legal reward system at the beginning of the reform and opening up, affecting the basic style and main aspects of the subsequent development of the legal reward system.


C. The Recovery of China’s Legal Reward System (1978-1997)


The recovery period of China’s legal reward system spanned from 1978 to 1997. As shown in Figures 1 and 2, the number of central and local legal documents with ‘reward’ in the title or content gradually increased and reached a first development climax in the late 1980s and early 1990s.


A number of landmark legal documents appeared in this period. In October 1978, the Technical Improvements Rewards Regulations, issued by the State Council in 1963, was reissued and implemented, continuing the development process of the first stage of China’s legal reward system and officially marking the resumption of the development of the legal award system. On the basis of revising the Invention Rewards Regulations of 1963, the Regulations on Invention Rewards of the People’s Republic of China (enacted in 1978 and revised in 1984) were promulgated and implemented in December 1978. Article 6 of the new regulation states, ‘the rewards of the invention shall adhere to the principle of the proletariat’s political leadership, combining spiritual encouragement with material encouragement and giving priority to spiritual encouragement’. The legislation clearly responded to the practical problems in the second stage regarding ‘profit priority’ and ‘spiritual reward’. Administrative regulations such as the Regulations on Natural Science Rewards of the People’s Republic of China (enacted in 1979, first revised in 1984 and revised a second time in 1993), the Regulations on Quality Products Rewards of the People’s Republic of China of 1979, the Regulations on Rationalized Suggestions and Technological Improvement Rewards of 1982, and the Regulations on Science and Technology Progress Rewards of the People’s Republic of China (enacted in 1984 and revised in 1993) constituted the backbone of the legal reward system at the time and became landmark achievements of the staged development of China’s legal award system. On this basis, awarding institutes such as the National Science and Technology Award Committee, the National Invention Award Committee, the National Science and Technology Progress Award Evaluation Committee, the National Spark Office, and the National Outstanding Achievement of Humanities and Social Sciences Research Award Committee were established, and they introduced national awards, such as the National Natural Science Award, National Invention Award, National Science and Technology Progress Award, and National Spark Award, as well as ministry awards such as the Ruzi Niu Award and Quality Management Award. In addition, the implementation of the Interim Provisions on Rewards for State Civil Servants of 1995 provided legal support for the reward work of government departments, and administrative rewards began to enter the stage of normal and orderly development.


The main characteristics of this stage are as follows. First, the number of special legislation documents was equivalent at the central and local levels. As shown in Figure 1, between 1978 and 1997, central-level legislation and local-level legislation with reward in the title were almost identical in number and tendency, and local-level legislation trailed central-level legislation slightly in terms of quantity peak. However, the overall top-down legal construction could not be the only reason for this feature. After careful study, we find that the special legislation at the central level was mainly the Science and Technology Progress Award Measures formulated by various ministries and commissions, while local-level special legislation was mainly the Science and Technology Progress Award Measures and enforcement rules formulated by various provinces and cities. According to article 10 of the Regulations on Science and Technology Progress Rewards of the People’s Republic of China, the award conditions, grades, amounts, review organizations and approval procedures of the science and technology progress awards at the provincial (ministerial) level were determined by the people’s governments of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities or by relevant departments of the State Council separately. It can be said that as far as special legislation on legal rewards is concerned, the reason that the number of central and local government legal documents was equivalent and that their trends aligned closely is because the special legislation on rewards was narrow at that time, mainly focusing on science and technology progress rewards. Second, the provisions for legal reward increased rapidly. As shown in Figure 2, regardless of level, the number of legal documents with content related to rewards increased rapidly, reaching its climax in the early 1990s; especially after 1993, local legislation surpassed central legislation in quantity and gradually became the main resource for incentive legislation. Unlike the single theme of special legislation related to rewards, the legal documents related to rewards not only involved traditional issues related to science and technology, production performance and the work of the government but also extensively involved many aspects of national governance, such as social security, education, talents, investment attraction, reform and opening up, culture, environmental protection, and water conservation, so legal rewards became an important means to promote reform and opening up and the construction of a market economy during this process. Third, honor rewards were gradually increasing. Due to the need to establish a market economy system, the development of the legal reward system in this period continued to attach importance to the material reward represented by the bonus. However, affected by the previous stage’s criticism of material incentives, the reward system exhibited the dominant theme of ‘primarily spiritual encouragement’. In fact, compared with bonus incentives, honor incentives are not only multi-level but also more widely applicable, which is conducive to stimulating reform enthusiasm, social vitality and creativity to a greater extent.


D. The Prosperity of China’s Legal Reward System (1998-2014)


From 1998 to 2014, the legal reward system in China was booming. It is obvious in Figures 1 and 2 that after the first wave of development in 1978-1997, China’s legal reward system started a more aggressive second wave in 1998. During this period, the number of central laws and regulations doubled, and the number of local regulations increased exponentially, reaching a climax of the second surge in development around 2011.


The vigorous development of the legal reward system has three characteristics in this stage. First, the number of legislative documents soared. As shown in Figure 1 and Figure 2, the number of central legal documents with a title or content related to rewards shows an overall upward trend from 1998 to 2011, although it varied from year to year and fluctuated slightly. Among these documents, there were 14 pieces of special legislation in 1998 and 40 pieces in 2011, with an average annual growth rate of 10.55 percent. The number of legal documents with content related to rewards was 232 in 1998 and 986 in 2011, with an average annual growth rate of 12.65 percent. The growth rate for local legal documents was more rapid, and the total number was even larger: the number of special laws enacted was 39 in 1998 and 968 in 2012, with an average annual growth rate of 27.11 percent. There were 1,135 legal documents with content related to rewards in 1998 and 16,023 in 2012, with an average annual growth rate of 22 percent. Second, the growth rate of local system construction increased significantly. Compared with the development of the legal reward system in the previous stage (1978-1997), the system developed in this stage was not only more rapid overall but the growth rate of local system construction exceeded that of central system construction, which did not occur in the previous three stages. Although the number of local legal documents surpassed that of central documents in the early 1980s, based on the overall development rate and trends, the development in the previous three stages reflects the central ‘predecessor’ model of ‘central drive localities’, and the development in this stage represents the local ‘predecessor’ model of ‘localities drive central’, which also opened up the era of ‘double drive’ in the construction of China’s legal reward system. Third, the content of the legal reward system was more abundant. Scientific and technological rewards remained the backbone of China’s legal reward system in this period. In May 1999, the State Council promulgated the Regulations on Science and Technology Rewards in China and at the same time repealed the Regulations on Natural Science Rewards of the People’s Republic of China, Regulations on Invention Rewards of the People’s Republic of China and Regulations on Science and Technology Progress Rewards of the People’s Republic of China, which were revised in 1993. The promulgation of the Regulations on Science and Technology Rewards in China and its two revisions in 2003 and 2013 were the main achievements of the construction of the central legal reward system during this period and the main driving force for the construction of the local legal reward system. As a result, various local science and technology rewards regulations or measures began to appear and increased. At the same time, in the fields of social governance, such as social security, environmental protection, and production safety, local legislation continued to try to encourage the legal reward system to play a role in construction in a broad field. Among these fields, the construction of the system of rewarding Do Boldly What Is Righteous is most prominent: from 1998 to 2014, various localities established and perfected a reward system for Do Boldly What Is Righteous in their regions in the absence of unified central legislation; this constituted an important aspect of the growth of the local legal reward system. It not only provided an impetus for unified legislation for Do Boldly What Is Righteous throughout the country but also updated China’s legal reward system, which focused on the ‘local drive’ development of the reward system.


A special explanation is needed here: This article does not limit the prosperity of the legal reward system to the peak of the growth of legal documents (2012) but extends it to 2014, for two reasons. First, the fluctuation in growth is not the most important criterion for the division of stages. As shown in Figures 1 and 2, the number of documents increases and fluctuates during the development of China’s legal reward system. If only the growth rate is used as the standard for stage division, the historical narrative of system development will be fragmented. Moreover, just as the inflection point of a continuous curve in mathematics lies not in the apex but at the boundary point between the concave arc and the convex arc, the historical ‘inflection point’ of system development is not at the peak of system growth but on the dividing line between the increasing and decreasing trends. Based on the data in Figures 1 and 2 and a ‘moving average’ analysis, 2014 is the ‘inflection point’ of the legal reward system. Second, landmark documents are important references for historical nodes of system construction. As an important norm leading to the development of the reward system, the Regulations on Science and Technology Rewards in China was formulated in 1999 and revised in 2013. Therefore, as a landmark system during this stage, its influence in this stage should be regarded as continuous, and it is inappropriate to divide the stage into two. At the same time, the publication of the Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Several Major Issues of Comprehensively Promoting the Rule of Law at the end of 2014 marked a new era of comprehensively ruling the country by law. It was the same in 1997, when the basic strategy of ‘ruling the country by law’ was introduced. The year 2014 was also a historic node for dividing China’s construction of the rule of law, and since then, a new era of the construction of the rule of law has begun. Therefore, we can say that since 2014, the development of China’s legal reward system has entered a new era.


E. A New Era of China’s Legal Reward System (2015-)


Since 2015, China’s legal reward system has entered a new development period. According to Figures 1 and 2, there is an obvious declining trend in growth rate, although the total number of legal documents related to rewards is still increasing. This undoubtedly means that China’s legal reward system is in a new stage of development.


It is difficult to make a comprehensive and accurate judgment about the development status of the legal reward system during this stage by relying only on the five years of data from 2015 to 2019. However, the development data for the legal reward system at this stage show a phenomenon that has not occurred in any previous period: the annual increases in the number of central legal reward documents and local legal reward documents have fallen substantially and simultaneously. Although the annual number of central legal documents fluctuated between 1990 and 1997, the number of local legal documents did not decrease synchronously. In contrast, the number of local legal documents with content related to rewards showed a clear upward trend year by year and reached a staged peak in 1997. However, the number of both central legal award documents and local legal award documents decreased sharply in the period from 2015 to the present. In 2019, the central government added 19 legal documents with titles that included the term ‘reward’, and the local government added 375. The central government added 512 legal documents with content related to rewards, and the local government added 5,732. In terms of the increase in documents, the number of documents introduced in 2019 was less than half the number introduced in 2012, and the overall quantity was close to the number observed in 2006. At the same time, we found that during the 70-year development process, although trends related to the number of central legal reward documents appeared to go through two waves, the trough stage has occurred, while the trough stage for the number of local legal reward documents does not occur before 2014. When we include the data from 2015 to now, we see a remarkable waveform cycle of the development of the legal reward system. Therefore, China’s legal reward system has entered an unprecedented new period since 2015 from the perspective of documentary data.


According to statistics for 2015 to the present, although the annual increase in the number of legal reward documents is declining substantially, that does not mean that the level of legal reward system construction is declining. As shown in Figure 3, examining the overall scale of China’s legal reward documents, we find that the reduction in annual increments indicates that China’s legal reward system has reached a new plateau. The increased number of legal reward documents cannot fully reflect the level of construction of the legal reward system at this stage. In other words, the standard for judging the level of the construction of the legal reward system in this period should not be limited to the number of documents but should also pay attention to the content and quality of the documents.

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It is worth mentioning that the establishment and improvement of the Commendation and Honor System for Meritorious Deeds of the Party and the State of 2015 is undoubtedly the most representative achievement of the legal reward system at this stage. The Opinions on the Establishment and Improvement of the Commendation and Honor System for Meritorious Deeds of the Party and the State was issued by the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in December 2015. The National Medals and Honorary Titles Law of the People’s Republic of China (implemented on January 1, 2016) was issued by the 18th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress in the same month. The Committee for Honorary and Commendatory Work of the Party and the State was established in April 2016, taking charge of honorary and commendatory work. The Regulations on Commendation of Honors of Meritorious Deeds within the Communist Party of China, Regulations on Commendation of Honors of Meritorious Deeds, Regulations on Commendation of Honors of Meritorious Deeds in Army, Measures for Awarding the Medal of the Republic and the National Honorary Title, Measures for Awarding the July 1 Medal, Measures for Awarding the August 1 Medal, and Measures for Awarding the Friendship Medal were issued and implemented in July 2017. It is foreseeable that the establishment and improvement of the honorary and commendation system of the party and the country will lead to a transformation in the construction of China’s legal reward system. The system will transition from being dominated by scientific and technological progress rewards to being dominated by commendations and honor rewards, thereby updating and expanding the growth point for the development of the legal reward system and opening a new path and realm for the construction of China’s legal incentive system.


       III. THE SCALE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 70-YEAR DEVELOPMENT OF CHINA’S LEGAL REWARD SYSTEM


China’s legal reward system has exhibited remarkable achievements during the system’s 70 years of development. However, the above time analysis of data, although helpful in explaining the history of and development trends in system construction, does not fully reflect the current development level of China’s legal reward system. To describe the development characteristics of China’s legal reward system in more detail and to summarize useful historical experiences and development revelations, it is necessary to perform a more detailed analysis of the cross-sectional data of the current legal reward system. Therefore, we conducted a detailed analysis of the 70-year development of China’s legal reward system from three aspects: content, region, and correlative system.


A. The Content of the Legal Reward System


As far as content is concerned, the legal documents related to reward cover a broad range of fields. A total of 788 legal documents (599 currently in force) with the ‘reward’ in the title were issued by the central government (by December 31, 2019), covering 63 fields such as science and technology, education and finance. The top 10 fields are science and technology, education, finance, labor unions, culture, agriculture, industrial management, transportation, taxation and personnel. A total of 11,074 legal documents (10,023 currently in force) with rewards in the title were issued by a local government, and these cover 88 fields, of which the top 10 are science and technology, finance, population and family planning, intellectual property rights, labor unions, education, public security, banking, enterprises and taxation. A total of 17,573 legal documents with content related to rewards were issued by the central government (14,129 currently in force), and a total of 19,548 legal documents with content related to rewards were issued by local governments (17,039 currently in force); these cover more than 100 fields. Among them, as shown in Figure 4, the top ten areas in total number are education, health, science and technology, construction, labor unions, public security, agriculture, finance, environmental protection, and personnel. Notably, several fields may be covered by the same legal document, and the main areas and related departments of the legal norms are the statistical standards. For example, in the field of urban construction and infrastructure construction, areas covered by reward content often involve promoting energy conservation and environmental protection. Considering that the content of the legal norms is mainly construction, which is primarily managed by the engineering management department, the reward document is thus classified under the construction industry.



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An analysis of the fields covered by the legal reward system reveals several characteristics of the related documents. First, the coverage of legal rewards is quite extensive. Since the reward is an effective means of organization and management, it is widely practiced in the activities related to national economic production and management, so provisions related to rewards naturally appear in the laws and regulations of various industries. Second, the fields covered by legal rewards are constantly expanding. In theory, the legal norms related to rewards can involve all areas of state and social governance and permeate all legal departments and all law enforcement links in the legal system, but in practice, the areas covered by the legal reward system have gradually broadened. As we mentioned in the previous review of the historical development of China’s legal reward system, the establishment and improvement of the legal reward system in China have been guided and driven by reward legislation in the field of scientific research and has gradually expanded to all aspects of economic production and social life through social development and the construction of the rule of law. Although the coverage of legal rewards is quite extensive, rewards are unevenly distributed in different fields. According to incomplete statistics, only a narrow definition of ‘science and technology, education, culture and health’ is considered, and this excludes ‘cultural relics, literature, history, language, sports, population and family planning, tourism’. Among the central legal documents containing content related to rewards, those that include the narrow definition of ‘science and technology, education, culture and health’ account for one-quarter of the total. Third, the field of special affairs governance pays more attention to legal rewards. Generally speaking, the emergence of a certain field or industry is often inseparable from the promotion of laws and policies. Therefore, the process of industry emergency is often accompanied by a legal reward system. Similarly, legal rewards also play an important role in promoting important special affairs of national and social governance, and they are even being used as the main means of promotion. For example, the number of legal reward documents related to special affairs such as ‘laws and regulations within the party’, ‘crime crackdown’ and ‘optimize business environment’ continues to increase, while the annual increase in legal documents related to rewards decreased sharply from 2015 to 2019. In addition, from January to April 2020, a measure for legal rewards was adopted in 581 legal documents issued by the central and local governments in response to COVID-19. It can be seen that in emerging and key areas, legal rewards have become an important means of national and social governance in China. With the further development of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the legal reward mechanism will enter all fields of the modernization of the state and social governance.


B. Geographical Distribution of the Legal Reward System


With regard to geographical distribution, legal documents related to rewards also exhibit certain regional characteristics. First, there are considerable differences in the number of legal documents related to rewards in different provinces (cities), and the development of legal award systems is uneven, indicating that despite the unified guidance of central legislation, the levels of recognition, initiative and enthusiasm for the legal reward system vary from place to place. Second, the coastal provinces have created a large number of legal documents related to rewards and are highly motivated. According to statistics on the number of legal documents related to rewards for all provinces (cities) in the country (Figure 5), by the end of 2019, among provinces with more than 10,000 legal reward documents, all but one were coastal provinces (Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Shandong, and Guangdong). The exception was He’nan Province, which is inland along the Yellow River. Third, the overall distribution of the number of legal documents related to rewards also shows a strong correlation with the level of regional economic development. As shown in Figure 6, the number of these documents in the eastern region far surpasses the number of such documents in the central and western regions, while the number in the northeast region is the smallest.




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We generally believe that economically developed regions will have a greater demand for laws. Therefore, according to the general view, regions with higher levels of economic development will also have a greater need for laws and regulations related to rewards; thus, these regions will have more legal documents related to rewards. As shown in Figure 5, many examples of areas such as Jiangsu, Guangdong, Shandong, and Shanghai confirm the judgment of ‘Economic Determinism’. To use a more accurate method to test this concept, we performed a correlation analysis between the number of valid legal reward documents from each province (city) at the end of 2019 and the GDP value of each province (city) in 2019. After that analysis, we find that the Pearson’s correlation coefficient for the two is as high as 0.85, indicating that the number of legal reward documents in each area has a strong correlation with local economic development. For this reason, we can summarize the three characteristics mentioned above as one overall characteristic; that is, the number of local legal documents related to rewards and the degree of maturation of the reward system are directly proportional to the GDP of the local economy. To further explore the causal relationship between legal rewards and economic development, we conducted a Granger causality test between the annual number of legal reward documents and the annual national GDP growth rate. With regard to GDP growth rate statistics, we consider data from 1979 to 2019 as the analysis object, and the analysis conclusions are as follows. At a significance level of 5 percent, the annual number of legal documents related to rewards is the Granger cause for the national GDP growth rate, not the opposite. Detailed results can be seen in Table 1, in which G represents the annual GDP growth rate of China, C represents the number of central legal documents with content related to rewards, and S represents the total number of legal documents created by the central government and local governments with content related to rewards. The data analysis supports the concept of ‘System Driven Theory’: C is Granger’s cause of G, and G is not Granger’s cause of C; S is Granger’s cause of G, and G is not Granger’s cause of S. That is, the speed of economic growth depends on the increase in the number of legal reward documents. Therefore, combined with the viewpoint of ‘Economic Determinism’, we can draw the conclusion that the development of the legal reward system is related to the overall level of economic development, and the growth rate of economic development depends on the development of the legal reward system.


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When analyzing the regional characteristics of the legal reward system, it is necessary to consider not only the factors of economic development but also the factors of the legislative system. Reviewing the development of the legal reward system, we can clearly see the development sequence of ‘top-down’ and ‘from central to local’ in the construction of the rule of law, which is determined by the factors of China’s legislative system. In the regional distribution of the legal reward system, we also find that compared with other regions, the eastern coastal areas are more active in the construction of the legal reward system, and this is influenced by legislative strategies focusing on local legislative power allocation, ‘first try’, and ‘local before central’. However, after careful research, we find that in addition to provinces, autonomous regions, and province-level municipalities, a total of 49 cities had local legislative power before 2015. After local legislative power was extended to all cities with districts through the Legislation Law of 2015, the increase in the number of local legal reward documents did not increase and has decreased sharply. Therefore, it can be said that the legislative system, the allocation of legislative power and legislative strategy are not the main reasons for the uneven development of the legal reward system, which also means that the regional development of China’s legal reward system does not have internal barriers in the legislative system.


C. The Correlative Structure of the Legal Reward System


However, it must be clearly noted that although legal documents with a title or content related to rewards are the most representative in the legal reward system and can illustrate the development and some achievements of the legal reward system, the legal reward system is not limited to the word ‘reward’. It includes content related to ‘bonus’, ‘encouragement’, ‘honor’, ‘commendation’, ‘praise’ and ‘incentive’ in legal documents, and this also reflects the development of the legal reward system. These words with similar meanings constitute correlative words for ‘reward’, and legal documents containing these words constitute a correlative structure for China’s legal reward system, forming a legal reward correlative system, such as a legal bonus system and an honor system. Although we need not exhaust these synonyms to describe the development status of the legal reward system, we should retrieve one or two as examples to prove the development of the legal reward system and show the depth and breadth of the legal reward system. 

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Therefore, we selected four keywords related to rewards: ‘bonus’, ‘honor’, ‘encouragement’ and ‘commendation’ to perform a content retrieval of legal documents, distinguishing between central legal documents and the local legal documents. We generated annual quantitative figures (Figures 7 and 8), attempting to show the overall development of the legal reward correlative system. After careful analysis of Figures 7 and 8, we find an overall trend in the development of China’s legal reward system and two basic characteristics of the correlative structure.


First, the legal reward correlative system has a common development trend. As shown in Figures 7 and 8, over the past 70 years, the change trend in the number of legal documents with content related to ‘bonus’, ‘honor’, ‘encouragement’ and ‘commendation’ has high consistency and synchronization with the change trend in the number of legal documents with content related to rewards, showing that the diachronic changes in the reward legal documents can basically reflect the historical process of the overall legal reward system. Thus, it is reasonable and feasible to divide the development process of China’s legal reward system according to the changes in data for legal documents related to rewards. We also find that legal documents with content related to ‘bonus’, ‘honor’, ‘encouragement’ and ‘commendation’ are an important part of China’s legal reward system and jointly reflect the overall scale of China’s legal reward system.


Second, the legal reward correlative system has different levels. This hierarchy is manifested in three aspects. 


The first is the number of documents. The number of files is hierarchical. The number of legal documents with content related to ‘bonus’, ‘honor’, ‘commendation’, ‘reward’ and ‘encouragement’ increases in sequence, as shown in Figures 7 and 8. The annual numbers for correlative legal documents show differences in terms of increases by year, and the magnitude of the differences is reflected in the cumulative number of correlative legal documents over 70 years. For example, among the central legal documents, a total of 4,634 have content related to bonuses, 5,689 have content related to honor, 11,995 have content related to commendations, 17,573 have content related to rewards, and 27,512 have content related to encouragement. Among the local legal documents, a total of 22,701 have content related to bonuses, 56,656 have content related to honor, 153,116 have content related to commendations, 19,548 have content related to rewards, and 256,677 have content related to encouragement. 


The second is system development. From Figures 7 and 8, we can observe that before 1998 (the first three stages of the development process of the legal reward system), there was little difference in the growth of various correlative documents. After 1998, the legal reward system entered a period of vigorous development, and the correlative structure of the legal reward system gradually developed. The legal principle of ‘primarily spiritual rewards’ was introduced in 1978, the increment of the honor system began to sporadically surpass the bonus system after 1998, and the annual number of documents with content related to the honor system exceeded the annual number of documents related to the bonus system in a comprehensive manner after 2005, fully reflecting the principle of ‘primarily spiritual rewards’ in the number of documents. 


The third is the correlative structure. In the legal reward system, the correlative system of the legal reward system has cross-composite and hierarchical characteristics that are not isolated from each other. For example, central legal documents with content related to rewards include 2,405 documents with content related to honor, accounting for 13.69 percent of the total, and 2,323 documents with content related to bonuses, which account for 13.22 percent. In addition, the documents with content related to rewards include 481 documents with content related to both honor and bonus, representing for 2.74 percent of the total. Legal documents with content related to commendation include 6,029 with content related to rewards, accounting for 52.26 percent. Legal documents with content related to encouragement include 6,803 documents with content related to rewards, accounting for 24.73 percent, 575 documents with content related to bonus and honor, which account for 12.41 percent of bonus documents and 10.11 percent of honor documents, respectively. In addition, with regard to local legal documents, the proportion of the cross-relationship of correlative systems in local systems is also similar to that at the central level above. It can be seen that although the development of the legal reward system started with ‘bonus’ and ‘honor’, the overall relationship structure of its correlative system is not shown as a ‘concentric circle structure’ or ‘pyramid structure’ with ‘bonus’ and ‘honor’ at the center but as a type of scattered and cross-composite structure similar to that shown in Figure 9. There are two reasons for these scale characteristics. First, the connotation relationship between words affects legal usage and cross-relationship. For example, the connotations of encouragement, reward and commendation determine the intersection of the three in the scope of application and the decrease in the number of legal documents. Second, the legal principles of the reward system have affected the quantity and distribution of correlative systems. For example, the difference in the number of legal documents related to honor and bonus is affected by the principle of ‘combining spiritual rewards with material rewards, primarily spiritual rewards’.

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IV. THE EXPERIENCE AND ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE 70-YEAR DEVELOPMENT OF CHINA’S LEGAL REWARD SYSTEM


The 70 years covering the development of China’s legal reward system represent 70 years of systemization of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, 70 years of modernization of the socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics, and 70 years of systemization of the theory of socialist legal theory with Chinese characteristics. Therefore, the development process of China’s legal reward system resonates with the development process of China’s construction of the rule of law and legal science. Its development achievements are attributed to the great achievements of China’s construction of the rule of law and legal science. The experience and enlightenment of China’s construction of the rule of law must also be applicable to the construction of the legal reward system. Since the basic experience of China’s construction of the rule of law has been comprehensively summarized and consensus has been achieved, this article does not repeat these conclusions; rather, it summarizes the major, specific, and special experiences and highlights of China’s legal reward system over the past 70 years. It also thoroughly discusses the basic theoretical ideas underlying the construction of the national system and the legal system in specific fields and provides theoretical support for the system’s confidence.


A. The Leadership of the Communist Party of China Has Always Been the Key to Promoting the Development of the Legal Reward System


Adhering to the leadership of the Communist Party of China is the fundamental principle that must be followed in legislative work. Historical experience shows that the success or failure of the construction of socialist democracy and a legal system with Chinese characteristics has always been closely connected with the leadership of the Communist Party of China. When our party is strong and united and attaches great importance to democracy and the rule of law, democratic legislative work is steadily promoted and fruitful; otherwise, legislative work faces trouble or even stalls. The development process of China’s legal reward system also vividly shows that the party’s leadership has always been the core and key driving force of system construction. Every historical stage, every key node and every transformation and upgrade of the legal reward system cannot be separated from the leadership of the party.


On December 13, 1978, Comrade Deng Xiaoping delivered a speech entitled Emancipating the Mind, Seeking Truth from Facts, Looking Forward in Unity at the Central Work Conference, reaffirming ‘encourage innovation’ and ‘distinct rewards and penalties’. He clearly put forward the principle of the reward system, which emphasizes the spirit of sacrifice rather than material interests and supports giving rewards to specific groups and individuals. In the specific mechanism, he also proposed that the work of all enterprises, schools, research institutions, and departments must be assessed and evaluated and that academic titles, technical titles, and honorary titles must be established; moreover, such rewards and penalties must be linked to material interests. The speech later became the theme report from the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, which marked the prelude to the new era of reform and opening up, provided ideological guidance for the legalization of reward mechanisms in various industries and fields, and drove the revival and development of the legal reward system. In May 1997, the Central Steering Committee for the Construction of Spiritual Civilization was established. Since then, the ‘honor’ mechanism has gradually surpassed the ‘bonus’ mechanism, which has promoted the optimization of the internal structure of the legal reward system. In September of the same year, the 15th National Congress of the Communist Party of China put forward the idea that ruling the country according to the law is the basic strategy for the party to lead the people in governing the country, which pushed the legal reward system toward vigorous development. In October 2014, the Fourth Plenary Session of the Eighteenth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China introduced the Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Several Major Issues of Comprehensively Promoting the Rule of Law, which proposed the enactment of the Law on National Medals and National Honorary Titles; this law established a driving mechanism for the surge in the development of the legal reward system in the new era. Therefore, the party’s leadership not only played a key role in promoting the historical development of the legal reward system but also plays an indispensable leading role in the field extension, scale expansion, concept upgrade, and focus shift of the legal reward system.


B. Not Only Punishment System But Also the Incentive System


The legal reward system is an indispensable and important part of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics. There should be not only rigid governance but also flexible governance in the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics. Reward and punishment, as governance means, complement and cooperate with each other, forming a joint force of governance. Although the chapters about various punishment measures and legal responsibilities in legal documents are impressive, causing people to generally associate the law with punishment, the real legal system attaches importance not only to the punishment mechanism, which is mainly based on legal responsibility, but also to the reward mechanism, which is mainly based on legal incentives. This differs from the typical perception that the legal system is a punishment system. When we searched for legal documents with ‘penalty’ as the keyword, we found 33,782 central legal documents and 236,197 local legal documents in the 70 years from 1949 to 2019. However, when considering ‘reward’ for the retrieval content, there were 29,582 central legal documents and 302,688 local legal documents. As seen in Figures 10 and 11, there were both ‘reward’ and ‘penalty’ documents in the central legal documents, and the number was similar, while local legal documents paid more attention to ‘reward’ documents. Therefore, the reward mechanism not only cooperates with and synchronously develops with the punishment mechanism but also surpasses the punishment mechanism in terms of the overall number of legal documents. It can be said that the rule of law system is not only a punishment system but also an incentive system. The historical practice of the construction of the socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics also shows that the development of the legal reward system is not only an important aspect of the development of the rule of law in China but also the most important aspect affecting the high-quality development of the rule of law in China. The high-quality construction of the legal reward system is an important aspect in promoting the high-quality development of the socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics.

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C. Reform Is the Keystone of the Development of the Legal Reward System


Throughout 70 years of development, reform, as the background of and impetus for system construction, has always been the keystone of the development of the legal reward system. First, the reform and opening up constituted the starting point for the rapid development of China’s legal reward system. Since 1978, China’s economic and social reform has entered its initial stage. To arouse the enthusiasm of the people for production and stimulate their enthusiasm for reform, legal measures related to rewards increased rapidly, and the annual number of central and local legal documents related to rewards exceeded those related to punishment. After ‘Developing a Socialist Market Economy’ was written into the Constitution in 1999, the legal reward system entered a period of vigorous development. After entering a new era in 2012, the ‘Four Comprehensives’ were proposed and required that we emancipate our minds again, break away from all the anachronisms of ideological concepts and institutional mechanisms, and break through the barriers of solidified interests, promoting the transformation and further development of the legal reward system. Second, the key areas of reform are often active areas of the construction of legal reward systems. Looking back on the course of reform and opening up, the reform of the market economic system has always been the main path of China’s reform. The economic legal system has become the main system for promoting and guaranteeing the results of reform in this process. In the existing legal system, economic law involves more incentive elements, while administrative law, civil law and criminal law involve fewer, which shows that legal systems that can strongly promote the transition from a planned economy to a market economy are more oriented toward incentives. Similarly, when addressing issues of science and technology and ecological development in the third and fourth industrial revolutions, numerous legal texts related to incentives were generated in science and technology legislation and environmental legislation, showing that there is a positive relationship between the main areas of the legal reward system and the reform content and its degree of activity. Third, the active areas of reform and opening up are often the active areas of the construction of a legal reward system. In the investigation of the regional development of the legal reward system, the earlier reform and opening up occurred, the earlier the construction of the legal reward system starts and the larger system volume has been. In the coastal and riverside areas where reform and opening up are active, enthusiasm for the construction of the legal reward system is also rising, and the system is growing rapidly. Fourth, the reform has promoted the exchange and interaction of reward mechanisms between legal norms and other social norms. As far as social governance and reform practice in contemporary China are concerned, apart from normative legal texts, we should also pay attention to the existence of a broader and diversified rule system, including party rules, party regulations, religious disciplines, public morals, ethical norms, folk customs, and social customs, in addition to the diversified national legal system. These multiple norm systems are themselves of participation in legal reforms, forming the space and structure for the operation of the country’s official legal texts and having an important impact on the practice of legal rewards. As a driving force for the practice of legal rewards, reform not only promotes the innovation of reward norms within the law but also promotes the interaction between the legal system and other social normative systems. The new developments in the legal reward system at this stage are the result of this interactive exchange. Fifth, the legal reward system itself is a form of reform. At the beginning of the recovery of the legal reward system in 1978, the bonus mechanism constituted the main aspect of the legal reward system. The design and improvement of bonus mechanisms essentially consist of the reform of a labor achievement distribution mechanism. It was the initial development of the legal reward system that realized the establishment of the ‘distribution according to work’ system. Moreover, the establishment of the ‘Commendation and Honor System for Meritorious Deeds of the Party and the State’ also means the overall allocation of the state and society in terms of rewards and honor resources, further reflecting that the development of a legal reward system is essentially an innovation of social resource allocation mechanisms.


D. The Legal Reward System Is a Model That Combines the Rule of Law with Rule by Virtue


Adhering to the combination of the concepts of ruling the country by law and ruling the country by virtue is the achievement and experience of the development of the rule of law in China, and it is also a principle that should always be adhered to in building a socialist system of the rule of law with Chinese characteristics and a socialist country ruled by law. In June 2000, Comrade Jiang Zemin pointed out that law and morality, as integral parts of the superstructure, are important means of maintaining social order and regulating people’s thoughts and behaviors; they are interrelated and complementary to each other. The rule of law regulates the behavior of social members through its authority and coercive means. Rule by virtue uses its persuasiveness to improve the ideological understanding and moral consciousness of members of society. Moral norms and legal norms should be combined and play a unified role. In October 2014, the Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Several Major Issues of Comprehensively Promoting the Rule of Law stated that we must adhere to the principle of ruling the country by law and ruling the country by virtue at the same time, vigorously promoting the core values of socialism and traditional Chinese virtues; cultivating social ethics, vocational morality, family virtues, and personal virtues; and attaching importance not only to the role of the norms of law but also to moral education. Embodying the moral concept with the rule of law, strengthening the role of law in promoting moral construction, nourishing the spirit of the rule of law with morality, and strengthening the supporting role of morality in the culture of rule of law are also what we must do to achieve the mutual complementarity of law and morality. It can be said that the development of the legal reward system is the result of the combination of the rule of law and rule by virtue and is a practical model of ‘good law and good governance’. On the one hand, the object of the legal reward system is often behavior beyond legal obligations, emphasizing the initiative, enthusiasm, and creativity of actors. On the other hand, the areas that the legal reward system pays attention to often involve the promotion of moral sentiment, which is an area in which legal coercive force is limited or the effect is not good. The development of the legal reward system shows that the socialist rule of law system with Chinese characteristics is not only a punishment system that emphasizes rigid systems but also an incentive system that emphasizes flexible governance and soft law governance. It is a governance system that combines punishment with encouragement, hardness with softness, and morality with law. Moreover, it reflects the highest realm of the rule of law; that is, we could achieve ‘non-forced’ legal incentives through ‘mandatory force’ legal rules or regulations to adjust the behavior of people in society, realizing social harmony and development.


E. The Legal Reward System Is a Boost to Economic Growth


Whether from the basic standpoint of Marxist jurisprudence or from the specific viewpoint of new institutional economics, we unreservedly agree with the reaction of the legal system to economic development. The legal reward system always reflects the level and style of the economic development of a certain society, and it always has a dynamic effect on economic development. With the development of and changes in productive forces, the ‘cake’ of social benefits has also changed. When the benefit cake must be re-segmented, on the one hand, to gain a part of social support and confirm the institutional arrangements for the division of benefits, some incentive norms focusing on confirming the scope of rights have appeared in the law; on the other hand, to obtain a part of the social mobilization force and to create a large profit cake, some incentive regulations mainly based on praise and encouragement have appeared in the law. Therefore, first, the generation and development of legal rewards have involved institutional feedback regarding the demand for economic growth. The larger the volume of economic development is, the higher the demand for the legal reward system; the larger the volume of the legal reward system is, the higher the level of economic development. This conclusion can be easily drawn by comparing the economic output value of all provinces (cities) in the country with the volume of reward legal documents. Second, incremental change in the legal reward system is the main reason for changes in the economic growth rate. We have analyzed and concluded previously that an increase in the legal reward system is the Granger reason for the economic growth rate, and the economic growth rate depends on the newly added number of legal reward documents. This discovery will help us better understand the relationship between the development of the legal system and economic development, indicating that to maintain a certain economic growth rate, the volume of growth of the legal reward system should also be maintained at greater than a certain level. Third, the development level of the legal reward system can reflect and influence changes in economic development. As we have seen in many charts above, the increment of legal reward documents began to show a downward trend after 2012 and entered an inflection point for transformation and development around 2014. This phenomenon confirms that China’s economic development has entered a new era. China’s economy has shifted from a stage of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development, also indicating that the construction of the legal reward system should turn toward high-quality development in the downward phase of volume growth.


F. The Legal Reward System Is the Focus of the Construction of the Local Rule of Law


The development process of China’s legal reward system is manifested as expanding from the central ‘predecessor’ model of ‘central drive localities’ to the local ‘predecessor’ model of ‘localities drive central’, thus forming a ‘dual drive’ effect of the construction of the legal reward system. The construction of the local legal reward mechanism constitutes the main aspect of the development of China’s legal reward system via this process. The legal reward system has become one of the focal points in the construction of the local rule of law. It is mainly manifested in two aspects. First, the construction of the legal reward system is an important growth point for the development of the local rule of law. We can find that the local legal reward system exhibits a ‘double high’ phenomenon. Whether it is the statistics of the number of legal documents with a title or content related to rewards, the local volume is much higher than the central volume. As shown in Figure 10, when comparing the number of legal documents related to rewards and penalties, we find that the number of central legal documents related to rewards and penalties alternately increases, and the number of documents related to penalties is always higher than that related to rewards during this stage. As shown in Figure 11, the number of local legal documents related to rewards has always been larger than the number of local legal documents related to penalties since 2005. The reason for this phenomenon is that rewards and punishments are the ‘two hands’ of being governed by law. Since the Legislative Law has already made it clear that ‘punishment’ measures such as penalties and serious coercive measures are granted to specific departments, coupled with the impact of human rights concerns, local governments have little room for ‘punishment’, and strict and heavy punishment methods are not in line with the current situation. To give full play to the advantages of the rule of law, promote innovation and realize the prosperity of the people, local governments can only and must undertake measures related to rewards. Second, the construction level of a legal reward system is an important manifestation of regional governance capabilities. If one wants to promote the formation and development of a leading region for the construction of the rule of law, it is necessary to make full use of authorized norms and legal incentive mechanisms, maximize social harmony factors and minimize social disharmony factors, empower social subjects to create social wealth and promote their own development, allow all sources of wealth creation to fully flow under the framework of norms and systems, and promote the sustainable and scientific development of regional economies. Therefore, whether the legal reward system is valued and constructed and whether the legal reward system is used to promote balanced coordination and benign interaction among government, market, and society are important criteria for judging the quality of local social governance.


G. The Development Prospects of the Legal Reward System


The 70-year development of China’s legal reward system has undergone ups and downs through five stages. An overview of the development of the system shows that the 70-year development of the Chinese legal reward system occurred within an overall development cycle, and the current stage is at the peak of this development cycle. Explaining how the construction of the legal reward system continues to incrementally decline during this stage is the premise for looking at the long-term development of the system. When considering this point, there are several possible theoretical interpretations. The first viewpoint holds that the reason for the decrease in the annual growth of the legal reward system is that the existing legal reward system documents continue to be effective, and there is therefore no social demand or legislative necessity for system growth. This view can be called the ‘sufficiency theory of the reward system’, which can explain the incremental decline in the legal reward system at the overall level with the help of system prescription and predict the overall trend in the system’s development with the optimistic attitude of ‘checking leaks and filling gaps’. However, the ‘sufficiency theory of the reward system’ ignores three issues. First, not all of the legal documents related to annual growth have the legal effect of repeated application, and a large number of legal reward documents are specifically applicable to individual areas, indicating that the legal reward system itself is a system filled with a large number of non-normative legal documents. Therefore, it is necessary to continuously supplement legal documents to consolidate the level of system development. Second, although the overall development level of the legal reward system is at the stage of decelerating development, the development of the legal reward system in different regions is uneven, and the demand for a legal reward system in economically underdeveloped regions remains considerable. Therefore, we cannot render the judgment that the legal reward system has been fully developed. Third, the practice of deepening reform and building the rule of law in China is currently advancing in an all-around manner. The system demand brought about by the reform will inevitably be different from that of the past. The existing legal reward mechanism might not be able to meet the future needs of reform. The second viewpoint is that the decrease in the annual growth of the legal reward system is due to the fading of reward effectiveness. From this point of view, in the context of improved material living standards, the stability of legal rewards means that the relative decline in reward intensity and the decline of rewards will bring about the ‘Aronson Effect’ and impair the actual effectiveness of legal rewards, thus causing the incremental decline of the legal reward system. This viewpoint can be called the ‘reward effectiveness reduction theory’, which notes the law of legal rewards and reminds us of the actual effect of the legal reward system. However, this viewpoint does not acknowledge that while the growth of legal documents related to rewards declines, legal documents related to penalties also begins to decrease, and both the growth and the total number of documents related to penalties are lower than the growth and the total number of documents related to rewards. Moreover, in contrast to the optimistic attitude of the ‘sufficiency theory of reward system’, this view shows a pessimistic attitude toward the function of the legal reward system, making it impossible to properly predict the prospects of the development of the system. In addition to the two theories above, there may be a third viewpoint, namely, ‘Economic Slowdown Determinism’, which states that economic deceleration is the reason for the slowdown of the legal reward system. However, due to the failure to pay attention to the one-sided Granger causality between the growth rate of legal rewards and the economic growth rate, ‘Economic Slowdown Determinism’ will always place system construction in a passive state and cannot make constructive predictions about system development. In addition, there could be an ‘ideological stability theory’, which attempts to interpret the reduction in legal rewards as an immediate strategy for the conservative development of the system in a risk society from the perspective of ideology and social stability while ignoring the development of legal reward systems. Generally speaking, the aforementioned explanations are not totally unreasonable. After revising the self-view and absorbing the benefits of these opinions, the author proposes the ‘Legal Reward Leap Theory’. This article believes that after 70 years of development, the Chinese legal reward system has accumulated sufficient system volume and system practices and is about to usher in a new leap in system development. The reasons and prospects for the upgrading and leap of the legal reward system include the following. First, under the ‘double drive’ development mode of the legal reward system, the practice of local legal rewards has already laid the foundation for the renewal and development of the central legal reward system. The construction of the central legal reward system will usher in the fourth development peak after 1955, 1991, and 2012. Second, in the context of the rapid development of regional rule of law and local rule of law, the volume difference in legal reward systems among different provinces and cities will gradually narrow. The balanced development of the rule of law in China in different regions will provide strength for the growth of local legal reward systems. Third, to promote economic growth, it is necessary for the government to play an active role in the legal reward system. Similarly, to promote high-quality economic growth, it is necessary to improve the development quality of the legal reward system. The scientific, systematic and theoretical development of the legal reward system is inevitable. The legal reward system and theory will definitely be the core content of the future construction of the socialist rule of law system with Chinese characteristics and theoretical research on the rule of law. The rapid development of the legal reward system will surely be an important force for advancing the construction of the rule of law in China and realizing the modernization of the national governance system and governance capabilities.



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