The Council of Chairmen decided today to convene the second special session—also the 32nd session—of the 12th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) from January 29 to 30, 2018.[*] This short two-day session will focus on two things: (1) deliberating a constitutional amendment drafted on the basis of the Communist Party’s proposals for amending the Constitution that were approved last week; and (2) considering a decision to convene the 1st Session of the 13th NPC.
On October 18, 2017, halfway through his mind-numbing three-hour report to the Communist Party’s 19th National Congress, President Xi Jinping called for “advancing the work of constitutional review” (推进合宪性审查工作). We then noted, and Chinese media later confirmed, that it was the first time such expression appeared in Party documents. While the expression might be novel, the concept of constitutional review is not—it has been an inherent part of “recording and review” (备案审查; “R&R”) since at least 1982. For purposes of our discussion, R&R is a process whereby various governmental entities with lawmaking powers record the legislation they enact with the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC), and the NPCSC then, through several established mechanisms, review such legislation for potential violations of the Constitution and national laws and take appropriate actions. The primary goal is to ensure the uniformity in the hierarchical legal system.
As 2017 is about to come to an end, we took some time to review the NPC’s and this Blog’s work in this past year.
The following legislations and decisions take effect on January 1, 2018:
- Environmental Protection Tax Law (环境保护税法; adopted on December 25, 2016)
- Nuclear Safety Law (核安全法; adopted on September 1, 2017)
- Public Libraries Law (公共图书馆法; adopted on November 4, 2017)
- Amendment to the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law (水污染防治法; adopted on June 26, 2017)
- Amendments to the Judges Law and seven other laws, which replace the unified national judicial exam (国家统一司法考试) with a new unified national legal profession qualification exam (国家统一法律职业资格考试) (adopted on September 1, 2017)
- Revised Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Promotion Law (中小企业促进法; adopted on September 1, 2017)
- Revised Law Against Unfair Competition (反不正当竞争法; adopted on November 4, 2017)
- Revised Standardization Law (标准化法; adopted on November 4, 2017)
The 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party will convene for its Second Plenum this month to discuss proposals for amending China’s Constitution. We expect the NPCSC to hold a non-regularly scheduled session shortly thereafter to draft a constitutional amendment based on the Party’s proposals. We also expect this NPCSC session to adopt a decision to convene the 1st Session of the 13th NPC on March 5, 2018.
Pursuant to a March 2017 decision of the NPC (discussed here), the roughly 3,000 delegates to the 13th NPC will be elected by the end of this month. The 12th NPCSC will certify the results of the elections at its next regularly scheduled session in late February.
UPDATE (Jan. 19, 2018): This post has been updated with links to an English translation of the draft Heroes and Martyrs Protection Law.
UPDATE (Jan. 4, 2018): This post has been updated with links to English translations of the draft revisions to the Procurators Law and Judges Law, and to the draft People’s Assessors Law.
The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) on December 29 released the following draft laws for public comments until January 27, 2018:
- Procurators Law (Draft Revision) 检察官法修订草案 (ENGLISH)
- Judges Law (Draft Revision) 法官法修订草案 (ENGLISH)
- People’s Assessors Law (Draft) 人民陪审员法草案 (ENGLISH)
- International Criminal Justice Assistance Law (Draft) 国际刑事司法协助法草案
- Basic Healthcare and Health Promotion Law (Draft) 基本医疗卫生与健康促进法草案
- Heroes and Martyrs Protection Law (Draft) 英雄烈士保护法草案 (ENGLISH)
- Soil Pollution Prevention and Control Law (Draft for 2nd Deliberation) 土壤污染防治法草案二次审议稿
All linked files are PDF documents in Chinese. English translations will be posted here when they become available. The NPCSC has also released explanations of these draft laws, which can be viewed at this link.
To submit comments online, please refer to these instructions. The “Occupations” dropdown list for the draft revisions to the Judges Law and the Procurators Law includes a new top item: “Judges, procurators, lawyers, or other legal practitioners” (法官检察官律师等法律从业人员).
Comments can also be mailed to the NPCSC Legislative Affairs Commission (全国人大常委会法制工作委员会) at the following address:
Chinese: 北京市西城区前门西大街1号 邮编：100805
English: No. 1 West Qianmen Avenue, Xicheng District, Beijing 100805
Please clearly write “[BILL NAME IN CHINESE]征求意见” on the envelope.
The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded its last session in 2017 on December 27, with the passage of three legislative bills and two decisions. As usual, in this blog post we will summarize and explain the actions taken by the NPCSC yesterday, with a focus on the approved Hong Kong-Mainland Cooperation Agreement regarding the joint checkpoint plan for a cross-border high-speed rail.
The official Xinhua News Agency reported on December 27 that the Politburo decided to convene the Second Plenum of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party in January 2018. The main agenda of the Plenum is to “discuss and study proposals for amending part of [China’s current] Constitution,” which was adopted in 1982 and later amended four times in 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004. Under Chinese law (and a key CPC policy document), the constitutional amendment process essentially includes three steps. In this post, we will explain each step in turn and point out the key events to watch during the next several months.
UPDATE (Dec. 23, 2017): The NPCSC has released the finalized agenda and daily schedule of the ongoing session. This agenda, unlike the agendas of past December sessions since the early 1990s, does not include a draft decision to convene the NPC session of the following year (which would be the 1st Session of the 13th NPC). This is highly unusual. But the significance (if any) of the absence of that decision is not clear at this point. Elsewhere, in a report on the draft Supervision Law (as reported by state media), the NPC Law Committee seemed to be deliberately avoiding referring explicitly to the 1st Session of the 13th NPC: It recommended that the NPCSC submit the draft Supervision Law to “a session of the NPC” (全国人民代表大会会议) for deliberation, short of identifying the specific NPC session (unlike what it had done before). Through this update we merely wish to point out these irregularities. It is still premature to speculate whether the 2018 NPC session will convene as usual on March 5 because the Council of Chairmen could always add a convening decision to the agenda (though it doesn’t explain why it hasn’t done so already). In any event, we will find out on December 27 when the ongoing NPCSC session closes.
As predicted, the Council of Chairmen met on Thursday (December 14) to set the dates and propose an agenda for the second last session of the 12th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC). According Xinhua’s report of the Council’s meeting, an astonishing 12 legislative bills (among others) were submitted to the upcoming six-day NPCSC session (December 22–27) for deliberation, the most ever since the start of the 12th NPC. Most of these bills are worth paying close attention to because of their subject matters, as we will discuss below.
Starting in December 2017, we will publish the NPC Calendar as monthly blog posts instead of a widget in the Blog’s sidebar and a series of tweets—however short the Calendar for a particular month may be (in other words, we are going to do this SCOTUSblog-style). This change will make it easier for us to (if necessary) provide a lot more details about NPC-related events each month. The NPC Calendar widget in the sidebar will remain, but will contain a lot less information than the blog post versions so as to provide our readers with a quick overview of NPC-related information each month.
The 12th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) will convene for its 31st—and the second last—session in late December. The Council of Chairmen is expected to meet next week to decide on the date and agenda of the 31st Session.
Now that the draft Supervision Law has finally become public, many are probably wondering what the next steps for the Law would be. When will the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) consider the draft Law again, if at all? Will the NPCSC release a revised version of the draft for public comments? And, given the argument that the Law shouldn’t be enacted until after the Constitution is amended to grant supervision commissions constitutional status, is it procedurally possible for the NPC to consider (and pass) a constitutional amendment at next year’s session? To predict such developments, we surveyed the legislative history of the laws passed by the NPC since 2000 (when the Legislation Law was enacted) and of all constitutional amendments to the 1982 P.R.C. Constitution.