27th Session Watch Pt. 1: NPCSC to Consider Securities Law Revision, Renew People’s Assessor System Reform

As we have predicted earlier, the Council of Chairmen met today to set the dates and agenda for this month’s NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) session. It decided that the 27th Session of the 12th NPCSC will take place from April 24 to 27. As usual, this post summarizes the official press release of the Council’s meeting, along with other pertinent information.

Legislative Bills & Reports

The following four draft laws are scheduled for the upcoming Session:

1. Draft revision of the Securities Law
Perhaps the most anticipated item on the agenda, the Draft revision was first submitted to the NPCSC in April 2015. For reasons unknown, the first draft was not released for public comments, deviating from the the normal procedure. Then China’s stock market crash in summer 2015 further complicated the revision process. The Draft revision, still not yet made public, had been tentatively slated for the NPCSC’s December session last year, but was later rescheduled.

In our view, a major reason for putting the Draft revision back on the agenda is to avoid invoking Article 42 of the Legislation Law, which mandates ending the deliberation of any bill not listed in the NPCSC’s agenda for more than two years. (In fact, this wasn’t the only instance during the Council’s meeting today where Article 42 was implicated, as we shall see below.)

We expect at least one more deliberation before the Draft revision is passed.

2. Draft revision of the Surveying and Mapping Law
The Draft revision was initially submitted to the NPCSC last October, and has subsequently been released for public comments (link contains text of first draft). It’s possible that the NPCSC would approve the Draft revision when its upcoming Session concludes on April 27.

3. Draft revision of the Standardization Law
The State Council submitted the Draft revision to the NPCSC on February 22, 2017. Revising the Standardization Law, which was enacted in 1988 and never amended, was listed as a Category I project in the 12th NPCSC’s legislative plan, indicating relatively high priority. We expect at least two deliberations in all for the Draft revision to pass the NPCSC.

4. Draft Nuclear Safety Law
The NPCSC first considered this draft law at its 2016 October session and has solicited public opinions on it (link also contains text of first draft). Considering that it’s a new law, we anticipate the NPCSC to complete the three-deliberation process for this bill.

The NPCSC will also review three legal documents relating to delegates to the next NPC, who are due to be elected by January 2018. The documents will each concern—

  1. Allocation of the number of 13th NPC delegates among all provincial-level administrative divisions and the People’s Liberation Army;
  2. Allocation of the number of 13th NPC delegates who are ethnic minorities;
  3. Plan for electing 13th NPC delegates representing Taiwan.

Moreover, the Supreme People’s Court has submitted a bill to the upcoming Session asking the NPCSC to extend the period to conduct pilot reform of the people’s assessor system. The reform pilots were originally authorized by the NPCSC in April 2015 for two years. We have written about the Court’s midterm report on the pilot projects here and here.

Furthermore, the Session will hear three reports by the State Council on the following topics:

  1. Efforts to advance supply-side structural reform and to accelerate the transformation and upgrading of the manufacturing industry;
  2. Environmental conditions and status of completing environmental protection targets in 2016 & efforts to implement the NPCSC’s law enforcement inspection report on the Environmental Protection Law;
  3. Midterm report on reforming the initial public offerings system (which was authorized by NPCSC in December 2015. As the Securities Law revision in back on the agenda, it would be interesting to see whether the State Council would continue with the reform—which was considered a temporary measure while the draft revision was delayed for reasons stated earlier.)

Other News from Council of Chairmen’s Meeting

In a rare act, the Council today heard the NPC Law Committee’s report on ending the deliberation of a pending legislative bill pursuant to Article 42 of the Legislation Law. The bill in question is a proposed amendment to the Special Equipment Safety Law (SESL Amendment), submitted by the State Council along with amendments to other 25 laws in April 2015. The other 25 amendments, however, were all approved by the NPCSC at that session.

According to the State Council’s explanation of the SESL Amendment, it sought to repeal provisions that require personnel overseeing, inspecting, or operating special equipment (such as elevators) to obtain relevant certifications before starting their jobs. The State Council would replace such advance approval process with training and evaluation administered by government agencies and with industry self-regulatory rules, so that those personnel could still be supervised and managed effectively.

Members of the NPCSC apparently disagreed with the State Council’s proposals, according a 2015 report by the NPC Law Committee. The NPCSC therefore didn’t vote on the SESL Amendment and has shelved it since April 2015, reaching the maximum two-year inaction period allowed by Article 42 this month.

Lastly, the Council of Chairmen today approved the NPCSC’s 2017 legislative and supervisory plans as well. We expect both to be released in a few days.

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