State Council Releases Legislative Plan for 2017

The State Council on Monday released its legislative plan for 2017 (2017 Plan). Because of this Blog’s focus, this post will only take a look at those projects in the 2017 Plan that will require the approval of the National People’s Congress (NPC) or its Standing Committee (NPCSC)—that is, proposed new laws or revisions of existing laws. For other projects (which concern administrative regulations), please refer to the linked plan itself.

Structure of the 2017 Plan

We reviewed the four previous legislative plans released by the current State Council from 2013 to 2016 (links in that order), and found that the overall structure of the 2017 Plan is similar to theirs, though with one notable exception.

The plans all start with several paragraphs of guiding principles for each year’s legislative work. Then come the legislative projects, which are grouped into sections based on importance and/or ripeness. Last year’s legislative plan, for instance, contains the following sections:

  1. Projects urgently needed for comprehensively deepening reform (Deepening-Reform projects; section first added in 2015);
  2. Projects to be completed within the year (Within-the-Year projects);
  3. Preparatory projects [预备项目];
  4. Research projects [研究项目].

While the 2017 Plan includes the first two sections, the last two are conspicuously missing. Because the General Office of the State Council indicates that the released 2017 Plan is only an abridged version (as are all previous plans), the full version might contain the two missing sections. Still, this doesn’t explain the change of practice this year.

Historical Completion Rates

We then calculated the completion rates of projects in the first two sections over the years. The results are shown in the chart below. A project is deemed completed if it was submitted to the NPCSC within the target year.

Year Within-the-Year Projects Deepening-Reform Projects
# Completed/ # Planned Completion Rate # Completed/ # Planned Completion Rate
2013 6/16 37.5%
2014 4/9 44.4%
2015 4/11 36.4% 1/8 12.5%
2016 5/9 55.6% 1/9 11.1%
Average 43.5% 11.8%

The completion rates of With-the-Year projects fluctuate around 40%, whereas each year, just over 10% of Deepening-Reform Projects are completed—which is quite disappointing, to say the least. Keep in mind, however, that these numbers only apply to projects relating to national laws in the legislative plans.

The 2017 Plan schedules eight Deepening-Reform projects and only three With-the-Year projects. We might again see similar completion rates this year, but there are reasons to suspect higher ones, especially for Deepening-Reform projects (see next section).

Deepening-Reform Projects

The eight projects are listed below, together with relevant information. In general, draft legislative bills are submitted to the NPCSC approximately one year after they had been released for public comments by the State Council’s Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA).

Projects Drafters In Previous Plans? * Status Probability of Completion
Tax Collection Administration Law (Revision) State Administration of Taxation, Ministry of Finance 2013–2016 Comments solicited on Jan. 5, 2015 Moderate
Standardization Law (Revision) Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine 2014–2016 Submitted to NPCSC on Feb. 22, 2017 Completed
Community Correction Law Ministry of Justice 2013–2016 Comments solicited on Dec. 1, 2016 High***
Export Control Law Ministry of Commerce 2016 Unclear Low to moderate
Tobacco Leaf Tax Law Ministry of Finance, State Administration of Taxation 2016 Comments solicited on Oct. 17, 2016** High***
Vessel Tonnage Tax Law Ministry of Finance, General Administration of Customs 2016 Comments solicited on Oct. 17, 2016** High***
Atomic Energy Law State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry National Defense 2015, 2016 Unclear Low to moderate
Encryption Law State Encryption Administration 2015, 2016 Unclear Low to moderate

Regardless of sections
** Not by the OLA, but by the State Administration of Taxation
*** Scheduled for 2017 by the NPCSC’s work report

With-the-Year Projects

The three projects are listed below, together with relevant information. In general, draft legislative bills are submitted to the NPCSC approximately one year after they had been released for public comments by the OLA.

Projects Drafters In Previous Plans? * Status Probability of Completion
Patent Law (Revision) State Intellectual Property Office 2013–2016 Comments solicited on Dec. 2, 2015 Moderate
Maritime Traffic Safety Law (Revision) Ministry of Transport 2013­–2016 Comments solicited on Feb. 14, 2017 Moderate to high
Public Libraries Law Ministry of Culture 2013–2016 Comments solicited on Dec. 9, 2015 High**

Regardless of sections
** Scheduled for 2017 by the NPCSC’s work report

Deprioritized Projects

The following five projects were listed in the State Council’s 2016 legislative plan as either Deepening-Reform or Within-the-Year projects, but weren’t included in the 2017 Plan. They weren’t completed in 2016 either.

  1. Electricity Law (Revision)
    National Development and Reform Commission, National Energy Administration
  2. Chinese-Foreign Equity Joint Ventures Law, Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprises Law, Chinese-Foreign Contractual Joint Ventures Law, and Taiwan Compatriots’ Investments Protection Law (Revision)
    Ministry of Commerce, Taiwan Affairs Office
  3. Administrative Reconsideration Law (Revision)
    Office of Legislative Affairs
  4. Metrological Law (Revision)
    Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine
  5. Officers in Active Service Law (Revision)
    Political Work Department of the Central Military Commission (CMC)

For the first four projects, we won’t venture a guess as to why there were excluded from the 2017 Plan—they might still be either preparatory or research projects had these two sections been published. We nonetheless believe that the last project, revising the Officers in Active Service Law, was dropped because of the ongoing reform of the military personnel system, which was authorized by the NPCSC in last December (and which we previously covered here and here).

Projects Assigned to State Council by NPCSC’s Legislative Plan

Lastly, in this section we take a look at the State Council’s progress in completing the projects assigned to it by the 12th NPCSC Legislative Plan.

The following projects are either assigned to the State Council alone or jointly with another body. Underlined projects are mentioned by the 2017 Plan. For the current statuses (or the lack thereof) of the following projects, please refer to our annotated versions of the 12th NPCSC Legislative Plan (accessible from Blog’s sidebar).

Category I: Projects of first-tier priority

  1. Patent Law (Revision)
  2. Copyright Law (Revision)
  3. Administrative Reconsideration Law (Revision)
  4. Administrative Supervision Law (Revision)—responsibility likely transferred to the NPCSC Legislative Affairs Commission
  5. Vocational Education Law (Revision)
  6. Cultural Industry Promotion Law
  7. Public Libraries Law
  8. Land Management Law (Revision)
  9. Civil Air Defense Law (Revision)—jointly with the CMC
  10. Value-Added Tax Law
  11. Resource Tax Law
  12. Real Estate Tax Law—jointly with the NPCSC Budgetary Affairs Commission
  13. Tariff Law
  14. Vessel Tonnage Tax Law
  15. Farmland Occupancy Tax Law
  16. Tax Collection Administration Law (Revision)
  17. Grain Law
  18. Atomic Energy Law
  19. Telecommunications Law
  20. Forestry Law (Revision)
  21. Railway Law (Revision)
  22. Mine Safety Law (Revision)

Category II: Projects of second-tier priority

  1. Basic Ocean Law
  2. Urban Residents’ Committee Organic Law (Revision)
  3. Commercial Banks Law (Revision)
  4. Chinese-Foreign Equity Joint Ventures Law, Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprises Law, and Chinese-Foreign Contractual Joint Ventures Law (Revision)
  5. Officers in Active Service Law (Revision)—jointly with the CMC
  6. Community Correction Law
  7. Detention Center Law
  8. Maritime Traffic Safety Law (Revision)
  9. Cultural Relics Protection Law (Revision)
  10. Drug Administration Law (Revision)
  11. Development Planning Law
  12. People’s Bank of China Law (Revision)
  13. Mineral Resources Law (Revision)
  14. Energy Law
  15. Infrastructure and Public Utilities Franchises Law
  16. Grassland Law (Revision)
  17. Aviation Law—jointly with the CMC

In sum, the State Council is individually responsible for drafting 55 projects in the 12th NPCSC Legislative Plan. To date, it has submitted 21 to the NPCSC and scheduled seven for 2017, leaving (most of) the rest 27 projects unlikely to be completed within the 12th NPCSC’s term.

The NPCSC is expected to release its own legislative plan for 2017 in late April.

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