December 4 is the 40th anniversary of China’s current Constitution. General Secretary Xi Jinping is expected to give a speech to mark the occasion at a high-profile commemorative event to be held in Beijing.
The 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is expected to convene for its 38th session in late December. The Council of Chairpersons is expected to meet in mid-December to decide on the agenda and dates of the session. The session is expected to review the draft Reservists Law [预备役人员法] and the draft revision to the Wild Animals Protection Law [野生动物保护法]. It is also likely to review the following bills:
In addition, the NPCSC is expected to adopt a legislative interpretation on the issue of whether overseas counsel not admitted to the Hong Kong bar may participate in cases involving offenses endangering national security, at the request of the city’s Chief Executive.
The NPCSC’s October 26, 2019 decision authorizing the State Council to pilot certain administrative reforms in China’s free trade zones will expire on December 1 (all reforms, except those concerning the Foreign Trade Law [对外贸易法], have been codified). The NPCSC’s December 29, 2018 decision authorizing the State Council to approve a certain amount of new local government debts in advance of annual budget approval will expire on December 31.
Recently, Lai retained Timothy Owen, an experienced British barrister, to lead his defense team. Owen, as one Hong Kong court recognized, is a “renowned specialist in criminal, public and human rights law, with substantial experience in cases concerning national security and freedom of speech.” He has appeared before Hong Kong courts in the past but is not admitted to the Hong Kong bar. Over the Hong Kong government’s objection, the Court of First Instance allowed Owen to represent Lai on an ad hoc basis. After having suffered a streak of losses on appeal, the government on Monday decided to seek help from the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC), which has the ultimate authority to interpret the NSL. Below, we will discuss the legal battle fought in Hong Kong courts, the government’s request for NPCSC intervention, and what to expect next.
Last month, China’s national legislature, the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC), reviewed draft amendments to the Legislation Law [立法法] (Draft), an important statute with semi-constitutional status. The Law, in sum, has three functions: it demarcates the authority of various law/rule-making bodies; regulates (to varying extent) their legislative procedures (in particular those of the national legislature); and prescribes a hierarchy of legal norms, along with attendant rules on how to apply conflicting norms and mechanisms for resolving such conflicts (the so-called “recording and review” [备案审查] process). Today, to engage with China’s legal developments—whether as part of research, commentary, reporting, advocacy, or doing business—it is increasingly crucial to understand the type of legislative power a governmental body has and the process whereby it issues binding rules.
The Draft would bring about changes in all three areas: authority, procedure, and hierarchy. Some of the changes are technical, some are substantive but not ground-breaking, others are confusing and require clarification, while a few do deserve attention now, especially from those interested in submitting comments (the comments period closes on November 29). Below we highlight two that fall in the last category. As the Draft may undergo moderate to substantial revisions, we will publish a more thorough summary after its second review, expected in December. A final review by the full NPC is expected next March.