NPC Calendar: April 2023

The Yellow River Protection Law [黄河保护法] (adopted on Oct. 30, 2022) takes effect on April 1.

The 14th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is expected to convene for its 2nd session in late April. The Council of Chairpersons is expected to meet in mid-April to decide on the agenda and dates of the session. The session is likely to review one or more of the following bills:

The NPCSC is expected to release its annual plans on legislative, oversight, and delegates work for 2023 after this month’s session.

NPC to Establish New Agency to Support Delegates

Former NPCSC Chairman Li Zhanshu participating in a discussion session with delegates invited to attend the NPCSC’s August 2022 session in a nonvoting capacity. Photo by Xinhua.

The number of agencies under the National People’s Congress (NPC) is about to grow by one. In the Party-state restructuring plan released on March 16, the Communist Party has decided to set up a new Delegates Affairs Commission[1] [代表工作委员会] under the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) to take charge of “delegates work” [代表工作],[2] an often overlooked part of the NPCSC’s duties. “Delegates work,” in sum, refers to a range of activities carried out by the NPCSC, NPC special committees, as well as their members and staff to facilitate (and, to a lesser extent, supervise) ordinary NPC delegates’ discharge of their duties. The last NPCSC (2018–23), led by Chairman Li Zhanshu, markedly elevated the importance of delegates work to the same level as lawmaking and oversight. The new Commission could thus be seen as an epilogue to the previous NPCSC’s reforms and an embodiment of its legacy.

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NPC 2023: Documents and Votes

The first session of China’s 14th National People’s Congress (NPC) concluded on Monday, March 13. Below we have compiled a list of all official documents from this session. Unless otherwise noted, all documents are available in Chinese only.

Where available, the vote results for each bill, resolution, and personnel matter are also listed below in brackets, in the order of yea – nay – abstention, followed by the number of delegates not voting (NV), if any. Some results are presented in a spreadsheet embedded at the bottom of this page. Thank you to Twitter user @MelanievonBraun for recording the votes received by each candidate for NPC Standing Committee member based on a livestream of the proceedings and for sharing the dataset with us.

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A Guide to China’s 2023 State Council Restructuring

UPDATE #2 (Mar. 23, 2023): Chinese authorities released the full Party and State Institutional Reform Plan on March 16, and the new State Council announced its organizational structure on March 20. We have accordingly updated our bilingual State Council organizational chart and this guide. Click here to jump to the update.

UPDATE #1 (Mar. 10, 2023): The NPC approved the State Council Institutional Reform Plan on March 10 and has released its full text, which is identical to the version discussed in this post.

On Tuesday, March 7, China unveiled details of its 2023 State Council Institutional Reform Plan (Plan) [国务院机构改革方案]. The National People’s Congress (NPC) is set to approve the Plan on March 9, ahead of its votes to appoint a new slate of State Council officials on March 10–11. This would be the ninth round of State Council reorganization since the Reform Era began. Previous rounds took place in 1982, 1988, and every five years thereafter.

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NPC 2023: Agenda and Daily Schedule

China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) has released its 2023 session’s agenda and daily schedule of meetings. This year’s session will open on the morning of March 5 and close on the morning of March 13. Lasting only eight and a half days, it is the shortest inaugural session of an NPC in at least forty years. NPC sessions in the last three years were each shortened to seven days (from typically ten) due to Covid-control measures. This year’s session is the first one held since the zero-Covid policy ended last December, but it appears the compressed meeting schedule is here to stay. All times below are in China Standard Time (UTC +8:00). For a primer on the NPC and its annual sessions, check out this FAQ.

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NPC 2023: How China Selects Its State Leaders for the Next Five Years

NPC delegates reading election ballots during the 2013 NPC session. Photo by Tencent.

The 14th National People’s Congress (NPC) will convene for its inaugural session on Sunday. One closely watched task for the session this year is to fill an array of positions in core state institutions whose five-year terms are about to expire, from the nation’s head of state to hundreds of new members on various legislative committees. In this post, we will explain what those positions are, introduce the two methods of selection (election and appointment), discuss the Communist Party-controlled nomination process, and lastly take a look at how the NPC will deliberate and vote on the nominations in the next several days.

There are few standing legal rules on China’s quinquennial state leadership changes. Instead, they follow the ad hoc procedural rules adopted by the NPC every five years, as well as the Party’s internal practices on the selection of candidates. This post is based on those past rules and practices. While the details have changed from cycle to cycle, the fundamentals have remained the same. We will update this post once the NPC approves the ad hoc rules that will govern this year’s elections and appointments.

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NPC 2023: Amendments to China’s “Statutory Constitution” of Lawmaking

Editor’s Note (Mar. 16, 2023): We have updated this post in accordance with the final text of the amendments adopted on March 13. The original version of this post is archived here.

For the ninth year in a row, China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) considered and adopted legislation at its annual session earlier this month. This year’s bill was amendments to the Legislation Law [立法法] (Bill), previously reviewed in October and December 2022. The Legislation Law is an important statute with semi-constitutional status. It serves three principal purposes: it demarcates the legislative authority of various state institutions; regulates (to varying extent) their legislative procedures; and prescribes a hierarchy of legal norms, along with the attendant mechanism to enforce that hierarchy, called “recording and review” [备案审查].

The Bill has made an array of amendments to provisions in all three areas. In this post, we will offer a relatively thorough discussion of the Bill, proceeding in the order of legislative authority, procedure, and hierarchy. In each section below, we will discuss more important amendments in the order they appear in the Bill, and briefly summarize minor ones at the end of the section. We will not mention amendments that simply repeat the provisions of other laws. All in-line citations are to the Legislation Law as amended by the Bill.

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NPC Calendar: March 2023

The revised Animal Husbandry Law [畜牧法] (adopted on Oct. 30, 2022) and the Reservists Law [预备役人员法] (adopted on Dec. 30, 2022) take effect on March 1.

China’s 14th National People’s Congress (NPC) will convene for its inaugural session on March 5. The list of 2,977 newly elected delegates and our analysis of their composition are available here. The session’s agenda is expected to include the following items:

  • Routine matters
    • Deliberate the Government Work Report;
    • Deliberate work reports by the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC), the Supreme People’s Court (SPC), and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP);
    • Review a report on the implementation of the 2022 National Economic and Social Development Plan and on the draft 2023 National Economic and Social Development Plan; and review the draft 2023 National Economic and Social Development Plan; and
    • Review a report on the execution of the 2022 Central and Local Budgets and on the draft 2023 Central and Local Budgets; and review the draft 2023 Central and Local Budgets.
  • Personnel matters
    • Elect the chairperson, vice-chairpersons, secretary-general, and members of the 14th NPCSC;
    • Establish the special committees of the 14th NPC, and appoint their chairpersons, vice-chairpersons, and members;
    • Elect the P.R.C. president and vice-president;
    • Appoint the premier, vice-premiers, state councilors, heads of ministries and commissions, governor of the People’s Bank of China, auditor-general, and secretary-general of the State Council;
    • Elect the chairperson of the Central Military Commission, and appoint its vice-chairpersons and members;
    • Elect the chairperson of the State Supervision Commission;
    • Elect the president of the SPC; and
    • Elect the procurator-general of the SPP.
  • Other matters
    • Deliberate a draft amendment to the Legislation Law [立法法]; and
    • Deliberate the part of the Party and State Institutional Reform Plan [党和国家机构改革方案] (approved by the Communist Party Central Committee on February 28) that concerns the State Council (and perhaps other state institutions, too).

On March 4, the NPC session will convene for a preparatory meeting to select members of the Presidium (an ad hoc body of about 170–190 members that will preside over the session) and to finalize the session’s agenda. The Presidium will then immediately meet to decide on the session’s daily schedule and designate a spokesperson. Shortly thereafter the session is expected to hold its first press conference.

The first session of an NPC typically lasts about two weeks, but the NPC’s last three annual sessions were shortened due to Covid-19. Depending on whether this year’s schedule will again be compressed, the NPC’s 2023 session could close anywhere between March 15 and 20.

Within a day or two after the NPC session closes, the newly constituted 14th NPCSC will convene for its first session, at which it is expected to approve only some internal personnel changes. By convention, a new NPCSC does not get down to legislative or oversight tasks until its second session in late April.

(Still) Mostly Han Men: Demographics of the 14th NPC

Delegates clapping at the 2022 NPC session. Photo by CGTN.

On Friday, February 24, the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded its final session, thus effectively bringing the 13th NPC’s five-year term to a close. As one of its last official acts, the outgoing NPCSC certified the elections of 2,977 delegates to the 14th NPC, which will first convene on March 5. In a rare move, the NPCSC Delegate Credentials Committee disqualified three delegates-elect (from Hebei, Guangdong, and Chongqing, respectively)[*] because they “lack the basic statutory requirements” for being a delegate, without further elaborating.

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2022 Legal Inquiry Response: Localities Lack Legislative Authority over Personal Bankruptcy—Except Shenzhen?

On January 28, 2023, the Legislative Affairs Commission (LAC) of the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) released one of the “legal inquiry responses” [法律询问答复] it had issued during the past year. As discussed in depth here, such responses clarify the applicable law in real-world scenarios at the request of central governmental bodies or provincial legislatures. They are not universally binding, but are considered highly persuasive—hence a form of “soft law”—because of the LAC’s pivotal role in lawmaking.

The sole response released on Saturday concerns the division of legislative powers between central and local authorities. In May 2022, an unnamed provincial legislature[1] wrote to the LAC that the minors protection legislation it was reviewing would touch on (1) guardianship of minors, and that it was also mulling legislation on (2) intellectual property protections for porcelain and (3) personal bankruptcy. May it legislate on those matters, it asked, or are they within the national legislature’s exclusive purview?

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