Two years ago this month, the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) released its five-year legislative plan (Plan or 5YLP), a blueprint for its legislative agenda through 2023. This Plan, like its previous iterations, includes three categories of legislative projects. Category I projects are relatively ripe and should “in principle” be completed within the 13th NPCSC’s term (ending in March 2023), whereas Category II projects are less so and require additional work. Both Category I and Category II projects are numbered. By contrast, Category III includes a series of unnumbered topics for potential legislation, which was deemed not entirely feasible at the time.
Soon after this Plan was released, we published a mostly qualitative analysis, comparing it with previous Plans and distilling a few themes from it. In this long delayed second (and final) part of our analysis, we will take a primarily quantitative approach, examining the Plan and its five predecessors (the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th NPCSCs’ 5YLPs) from a few different angles.
In early 2018, we first gave a detailed introduction to “recording and review” (R&R) [备案审查], an increasingly notable aspect of the oversight by the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC). For our purposes here, and generally speaking, R&R is a process whereby various governmental bodies with lawmaking authority record their enactments with the NPCSC, which may then review the recorded legislation on certain grounds and order corrective actions if the legislation does not pass muster. R&R has led to some positive developments in Chinese law since our initial introduction. A few months ago, for instance, it led to the NPCSC’s abolition of “custody and education” [收容教育]—a decades-old extrajudicial detention system targeting prostitution.
The biggest update to the R&R scheme since its inception came last December. That month, the Council of Chairpersons approved the Working Measures for the Recording and Review of Regulations and Judicial Interpretations (Measures) [法规、司法解释备案审查工作办法], which were then quietly released in the NPCSC Gazette’s March issue. This is a noteworthy piece of authority: not only does it supplement the two main governing statutes—the Legislation Law [立法法] and the Law on Oversight by the Standing Committees of the People’s Congresses at All Levels (Oversight Law) [各级人民代表大会常务委员会监督法]—by filling in the procedural gaps, but more importantly, it elaborates on the existing grounds for review and also introduces brand-new ones. We thus would like to take this opportunity to reintroduce the NPCSC’s R&R practice, as now undertaken under these new rules. All citations below are to the Measures unless otherwise indicated.
The 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded its twenty-first session on Tuesday, August 11. It adopted five bills, most notably a decision allowing the incumbent Hong Kong Legislative Council (LegCo) to continue serving for at least another year after its original term expires next month. We will focus on this decision below and briefly summarize the other bills.
The session will likely also consider a decision dealing with the anticipated vacancy of the Hong Kong Legislative Council after the Hong Kong Chief Executive decided on Friday, July 31 to postpone Council elections (originally scheduled for September 6) by a year. The term of the current Legislative Council will expire on September 30.
UPDATE (July 31, 2020): Today, the Hong Kong Chief Executive officially announced the postponement of the Legislative Council elections to next fall. The central government said in a statement that it would seek a decision by the NPCSC on the one-year vacancy of the Legislative Council after its current term expires on September 30.
We did not wake up today expecting to write this blogpost, yet here we are. On Wednesday, July 29, the Council of Chairpersons decided to convene the 21st session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC)—much to our surprise—from August 8 to 11. For the past three terms, the NPCSC’s regular sessions began only during the last ten days of each month in which it was scheduled to meet (with one exception). And this upcoming session bears all the indications of a regular (August) session: its four-day length, a full batch of bills to review, and the State Council’s mid-year reports on budget implementation and economic development (which are heard in August).
The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) unanimously approved the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region [香港特别行政区维护国家安全法] (Law) on the morning of Tuesday, June 30. That afternoon, the NPCSC separately listed the Law in Annex III to the Hong Kong Basic Law so that it can be enforced in the city. The Law took effect in Hong Kong later that day, at 11 p.m., when it was made public for the first time. The NPCSC previously released (via Xinhua) an excerpted explanation of the Law, which we have summarized here. For now, we will not restate what we already covered in that prior summary, in the interest of time. Instead, here, we will focus on the criminal provisions of the Law (which have heretofore been withheld) and other significant provisions that were not previously disclosed.