On this last day of the eventful 2016—which brought us a Trump Presidency, Brexit, not the most celebrity deaths in a year (per CNN), and of concern to this Blog, a series of significant yet oftentimes controversial actions by the NPCSC—I took some time to review the NPC and this Blog’s 2016 and to preview their 2017 as well.
2016 in Review
The NPC in 2016
In 2016, the NPCSC held seven sessions, including an extremely rare emergency session. It was convened to deal with the situation where the Standing Committee of the Liaoning Provincial People’s Congress (Liaoning PCSC) lacked a quorum because over half of its members had been disqualified for vote buying. The NPCSC created a temporary body to exercise part of the Liaoning PCSC’s powers so that new members could be elected. The previous non-regularly-scheduled session was held in April 2004 to decide on the methods for electing the Hong Kong Chief Executive in 2007 and the Legislative Council in 2008.
* Excluding decisions on legal issues (e.g., reform authorizations) and legislative interpretations.
** Excluding amendments passed after single deliberations.
By purely numerical standards, 2016 has been the 12th NPC’s most prolific year thus far (see the chart above). The legislature considered a total of 21 major legislative bills, narrowly beating the 20 in 2015, and approved 13 of them. Of these 13 bills, ten were new laws—by far the most reviewed by the 12th NPC in a single year. They are:
- Law on the Exploration and Development of Resources in Deep Seabed Areas;
- Charity Law;
- Law on the Management of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations’ Activities within Mainland China;
- Assets Appraisal Law;
- National Defense Transportation Law;
- Cybersecurity Law;
- Film Industry Promotion Law;
- Chinese Medicine Law;
- Law on Ensuring Public Cultural Services; and
- Environmental Protection Tax Law.
In addition, the NPCSC reviewed the following eight bills, but has yet to pass them:
- Draft General Provisions of the Civil Code;
- Draft revision to the Red Cross Society Law;
- Draft revision to the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Promotion Law;
- Draft revision to the Surveying and Mapping Law;
- Draft Nuclear Safety Law;
- Draft amendment to the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law;
- Draft E-Commerce Law; and
- Draft National Intelligence Law.
Other significant actions taken by the NPCSC in the past year included an authorization of pilot projects on plea bargaining-style reform of the criminal justice system, an interpretation of the Hong Kong Basic Law to bar two “localist” legislators from taking office, and a decision to reform the state supervision system.
This Blog in 2016
Today marks the 73rd day of this Blog’s existence.
The experience thus far has been quite exciting, but also immensely humbling at the same time. In a little over two months, what started out as an obscure website has attracted (as of 4 a.m. UTC on December 31, 2016) nearly 900 views by visitors from 27 jurisdictions (see map above). Among the Blog’s readers are legal scholars, long-time China watchers, members of major NGOs, and journalists. A great part of this small achievement is owed to China Law Translate, the Supreme People’s Court Monitor, Sinocism, and many others who have helped this Blog become more visible.
A sincere “Thank you” to everyone who has supported this Blog in 2016!
Looking ahead to 2017
The NPC in 2017
2017 will be the 12th NPC’s last full calendar year in office.
Because its Standing Committee won’t be in session until late February 2017, there won’t be much NPC-related news until then. To fill the void, this Blog will publish several articles on the 12th NPCSC’s five-year legislative plan, if the editing can be finished on schedule.
Shortly after the NPCSC’s February session, the 12th NPC will convene its last plenary session on March 5. It will be a considerably busier time at the NPC, and accordingly, at this Blog, which will provide coverage throughout the event.
In late April, the NPCSC is expected to release its annual legislative plan for 2017. The plan will list the legislative bills tentatively scheduled for each of the NPCSC’s six bi-monthly sessions in 2017. Given that the average completion rate of the annual legislative plans released (2007–10 and 2013–2016) was roughly 75%, the 2017 plan will be a decent indication of the bills the NPCSC will review in 2017.
Several important legislations are likely to be submitted in 2017. Of potential interest to the Blog’s readers might be the long overdue revisions to the People’s Courts Organic Law and the People’s Procuratorates Organic Law—laws that structure China’s judicial system. The NPC Internal and Judicial Affairs Committee indicated in a report that it will “strive to” submit the two bills in 2017. The planned revisions to the Judges Law and the Procurators Law will likely be ready for submission in 2017 as well. Elsewhere, two other NPC special committees stated that they will submit the draft Basic Medical Care and Health Service Law and the draft Soil Pollution Prevention and Control Law in 2017.
The six laws mentioned above are among the 32 Category I and 22 Category II projects in the 12th NPCSC’s five-year legislative plan that are still outstanding as of today. For a complete list of these projects, please refer to the “Resources” section in the sidebar. They—or at least some of them—are expected to be the NPCSC’s top priorities in 2017.
Also in 2017, various reform authorizations will expire and several midterm reports on reforms will be due. We will keep you updated.
This Blog in 2017
Starting on New Year’s Day, this Blog will have a simpler customized domain: NPCObserver.com. [Update: The new site URL is live!]
Along with it will come more tweaks to the Blog’s appearance, starting with a new “NPC Calendar” section in the sidebar. The Calendar will be updated monthly to provide a summary of NPC-related information relevant to each month, including:
- Effective dates of national laws;
- Dates and simplified agendas of NPC and NPCSC sessions;
- Authorizations to expire; and
- Important reports (e.g., midterm reports on reforms) due.
The January 2017 NPC Calendar is already on display, as you may have already noticed. In addition, I’ll try to change the visually obnoxious right-aligned texts in the sidebar.
In the new year, while striving to provide our readers with reliable and high-quality coverage of China’s national legislature, this Blog will also publish a few more original research articles as mentioned above. Stay tuned!
To end with a useless-and-not-even-fun fact, when this post goes online at 10 a.m. UTC on December 31, 2016, the people of the three island nations of Tonga, Kiribati, and Samoa will be celebrating the start of 2017. They will be the first in the world to welcome the new year, though regrettably none of them reads this Blog.
With that, Happy New Year 2017!