China will speed up the construction of a public legal service system that covers both rural and urban areas to meet people's increasing demand for legal services, an official with the Ministry of Justice said on Wednesday.
Public legal services play a significant role in ensuring and improving people's livelihood, boosting law-based governance in rural areas and facilitating rural revitalization, said Shi Hansheng, deputy director of the ministry's Bureau of Public Legal Services Administration.
Residents can access public legal services through multiple channels, including the judicial office, legal service offices and legal assistance centers at the grassroots level, he said. According to statistics from the ministry, China has about 515,000 village-level people's mediation committees and about 40,000 township-level judicial offices nationwide. Last year, judicial offices participated in the mediation of more than 3.68 million cases, carried out 1.75 million activities promoting the rule of law and answered 4.21 million requests for legal counselling.
Shi said public legal services in rural areas has been further improved in recent years, but there are still some weaknesses.
"Factors including shortages of professional personnel, limited service capabilities, unbalanced resource distribution and a lack of consciousness and initiative in seeking legal services to solve conflicts, have all affected the due role of public legal services in rural legal governance," Shi said.
By the end of 2020, China had more than 14,000 grassroots legal service institutions, including 8,700 in townships. There are also over 63,000 legal service personnel at the grassroots level, about 44 percent of them from townships.
"We will establish a sound mechanism for the inter-regional flow of legal service resources as soon as possible, and make services more accessible and equitable. Preferential policies, personnel, funds and projects should be precisely given to places lacking such services," he said.
Additionally, the ministry would further integrate public legal services with hotlines and the Internet, enabling rural residents to access mobile services, he said.