5. We worked to see that deputies to the NPC fully played their principal role.
We regarded giving full play to the role of deputies as an important measure for boosting the vitality of the NPC's work, and have continued to deepen and expand our work related to deputies.
1) We worked to see better communication between the Standing Committee and deputies and between deputies and the people.
We implemented the guidelines for ensuring members of the Chairperson's Council and members of the Standing Committee maintain close contact with NPC deputies. This has helped us to strengthen our ties with deputies. We made it a regular practice for deputies to observe Standing Committee meetings, participate in law compliance inspections, and join the activities of special committees of the NPC and working committees of the Standing Committee. Over the past four years, we saw a cumulative deputy attendance of over 1,270 at Standing Committee meetings in a nonvoting capacity, as well as an attendance of over 1,200 in law compliance inspections and other activities. We urged the State Council, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate to strengthen their contact with deputies. In 2016, the State Council and its relevant departments invited over 1,700 deputy participants in their research activities and discussions, and the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate involved over 600 deputies in their research projects. We issued the guidelines on improving the system by which deputies to people's congresses maintain contact with the people. For this purpose, we advanced the development of venues and online platforms enabling deputies to develop closer ties with the public, and improved the mechanism for relevant government departments to process and give feedback on the proposals and requests of the public passed on to them by deputies.
2) We improved our efficiency in examining deputies' proposals and ensuring handling of their suggestions.
Relevant special committees completed their examination of all 462 proposals referred to them by the Presidium of the Fourth Session of the 12th NPC. Of these, we have adopted 10 legislative items addressed in 32 of the submitted proposals; are deliberating 7 legislative items addressed in 26 of the proposals; and have included 42 legislative items discussed in 123 of the proposals in our annual legislative plan or five-year legislative program. All 8,609 suggestions, criticisms, and comments submitted by deputies have been handled, and 80.6% of the problems raised therein have been resolved or have been scheduled for gradual resolution.
The State Council, the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, and relevant government departments attached great significance to the handling of deputies' suggestions, and the General Office of the Standing Committee and relevant special committees of the NPC worked conscientiously to coordinate and oversee this work. The State Council convened multiple executive meetings to hear reports on the handling of deputies' suggestions, and put forth the requirement that relevant departments make the handling of deputies' suggestions a standard and high-priority annual task, strengthen their communication with deputies, promptly respond to deputies' concerns, and accept deputies' oversight so as to ensure sound decision-making. In short, the comments and suggestions of deputies were seriously considered and adopted by relevant government departments as they developed policies and carried out their work.
3) We helped deputies improve their thinking, work style, and capabilities.
We meticulously formulated and carried out study and training plans for deputies, helping them grasp and put into practice the guidelines of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th Party Central Committee and improve their thinking and work style. Last year we organized three study sessions and one seminar on special topics, which were attended by more than 1,000 deputies. We also organized research projects and inspection tours for deputies, which yielded a number of fruitful results and helped to move forward work in relevant fields.
6. We gave full expression to the NPC's role in serving China's overall interests through its international exchanges.
We remained committed to the principle of complying with and working for China's overall development interests and diplomatic work. We carried out overall planning for and greatly advanced the NPC's foreign relations work.
We strengthened and improved the mechanism of regular exchanges with foreign parliaments. The NPC has a mechanism for regular exchanges or carries out political dialogue with the parliaments of 20 countries including Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Brazil, and South Africa, as well as with the European Parliament. Last year, we established mechanisms for cooperation with the parliaments of Kenya and Israel.
Delegations headed by members of the Chairperson's Council visited 19 countries including Zambia, France, Finland, and Vietnam, helping maintain the positive momentum of high-level exchanges with these countries. As Chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC, I attended the Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), at which I delivered a speech presenting China's stand on promoting peaceful development of the world and greater democracy in international relations. The attendance of the Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee at the IPU Assembly for the first time in history has helped to greatly increase the international influence of the NPC.
We explored new forms of multilateral parliamentary diplomatic activities, working together with the IPU to hold, in China for the first time, a seminar for members of parliaments of Asian and African countries. We stepped up foreign exchanges and cooperation at various other levels, such as those conducted by NPC special committees, bilateral friendship groups, working bodies of the Standing Committee, and local people's congresses. We continued to arrange for the NPC Tibetan Delegation to proactively conduct foreign exchanges. Over the past year, we received 55 parliamentary or other delegations.
Based on the NPC's unique features and strengths, we put great effort into improving its foreign relations work in both scope and depth.
First, we strived to ensure that the consensus achieved between Chinese and foreign leaders is upheld, and worked to consolidate and enhance mutual political trust and foster mutual respect of each other's core interests and major concerns, thus strengthening the political basis for the development of China's relations with these countries.
Second, we worked to promote mutually beneficial practical cooperation with other countries across various fields. We helped increase the complementarity between the development strategies of China and other countries concerned in the Belt and Road Initiative, and urged the parliaments of these countries to provide legal guarantees and favorable policy environments for bilateral pragmatic cooperation and personnel exchange.
Third, in working to serve China's development strategy and the development of its democracy and rule of law, we strengthened international exchanges on the topic of state governance, learned from other countries' legislative experiences, and stepped up our work of explaining China's major legislative items to the outside world.
Fourth, by telling stories of China well and spreading Chinese visions, experience, and approaches, we have been able to see better understanding and wider recognition of China's development path and foreign and domestic policies in the international community.
Fifth, in responding to false statements and inappropriate actions by certain countries regarding the Taiwan question and issues concerning Tibet and the South China Sea, we resolutely safeguarded China's sovereignty, security, and developmental interests by issuing statements, engaging talks, and taking other actions.
Ratifying treaties and agreements concluded with foreign countries is a legally mandated duty of the NPC Standing Committee. The Paris Agreement has been the most important achievement of the multilateral efforts to address climate change in recent years. We deliberated and ratified this agreement, which demonstrates China's willingness to shoulder its responsibilities as a large developing country and enables China to play an even bigger role in multilateral initiatives on climate change.
7. We intensified self-improvement efforts.
We have continuously given top priority to improving our thinking and theoretical competence, held firm to ideals and convictions, stayed confident in the path, theory, system, and culture of Chinese socialism, and strengthened our sense of responsibility and mission. We threw ourselves into the Party-wide drive to help Party members better meet Party standards by studying the Party Constitution, Party regulations, and General Secretary Xi Jinping's policy addresses, and consciously equipped ourselves with the latest achievements in adapting Marxism to Chinese conditions and used them to guide our practice and advance our work.
We successfully organized Standing Committee seminars and strived to improve our capability for better performing our duties in accordance with the law. We strived to meet the requirements related to ensuring strict Party self-governance in every respect; made solid progress in improving Party conduct, promoting integrity, and fighting corruption; strictly implemented the Party Central Committee's eight-point decision on improving Party and government conduct; and continued to improve our work style. We improved the system for reporting attendance of meetings, and worked hard to raise the quality of deliberation. Administrative bodies of the Standing Committee and special committees willingly accepted the special inspection and oversight by the central discipline inspection team and conscientiously worked to rectify problems identified in the inspection, thus improving themselves and their work in all respects.
We strengthened leadership over the work of special committees and stressed the need for them to fulfill their crucial role. Special committees earnestly carried out their legally mandated duties and did a great deal of productive work, such as taking the lead in organizing the drafting of major legislative items, organizing inspections of compliance with laws, and carrying out in-depth research and studies. The Leading Party Members' Group of the Standing Committee set up branch groups in special committees to strengthen their work in relation to Party building.
The Standing Committee's achievements this past year have been made under the sound leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core. They are the result of the careful, diligent, and hard work of all NPC deputies, members of the NPC Standing Committee and special committees, and the staff of the administrative bodies of the Standing Committee and special committees; the close coordination and cooperation of the State Council, the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, and local people's congresses at all levels and their standing committees; and the full trust and great support of the entire Chinese people. On behalf of the Standing Committee, I would like to express our highest respect for and sincere gratitude to them all.
In reviewing what we achieved over the past year, we are keenly aware that the work of the Standing Committee still has room for improvement. We still need to make legislation more targeted and effective under the new circumstances, where legislation initiatives are growing in number and the pace of and requirements for legislation are increasing. We need to increase the intensity and improve the methods of our oversight work to address the prominent problems of non-compliance with laws, lax law enforcement, and failure to prosecute violations of the law. We need to see better communication between the Standing Committee and deputies and between deputies and the public, and improve the thinking and work style of deputies and members of the Standing Committee. We must take these problems seriously and strive to improve our work in all respects by listening to comments and suggestions from deputies and all sectors of society with an open mind and willingly accepting their oversight.