28th Session Watch Pt. 1: National Intelligence, Soil Pollution, National Anthem, and Others on Agenda—But No Sign of State Supervision (Yet) (UPDATED)

Update (June 22, 2017): According to the agenda and daily schedule of the 28th Session released today, a draft Supervision Law (监察法, formerly known as 国家监察法, or State Supervision Law) has been submitted to the NPCSC, as we predicted below. The NPCSC is scheduled to hear an explanation of the draft on Friday. We therefore will not have more information about the draft until then.

In addition, the NPC Law Committee has recommended that the NPCSC pass the National Intelligence Law and the amendment to the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law. We expect both to be approved on July 27, the last day of the Session. We also expect the ongoing session to adopt draft amendments to the Administrative Litigation Law and the Civil Procedure Law—submitted by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate to empower people’s procuratorates nationwide to initiate public interest litigation. Such a process is currently being piloted in 13 provinces.

The 12th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) will convene for its 28th Session on June 22 through 27, the Council of Chairmen decided this afternoon. This post is a customary summary of the Session’s agenda as announced in this press release.

Legislative Bills

A total of nine legislative bills have been explicitly scheduled for the upcoming six-day session—three returning bills and six newcomers. (There might be an additional bill, as we will discuss at the end of this section.)

The draft National Intelligence Law, revisions to the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law, and revisions to the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Promotion Law are returning for their second deliberation. They were previously submitted for review in late 2016 and have all been released for public comments (click on links for released texts).

Now on to the new bills. The Council of Chairmen submitted for review a draft National Anthem Law. We previously observed on Twitter that state media had already started hyping this proposed law. It seems that the draft law would ban the use of China’s national anthem, the March of the Volunteers, at private occasions (such as weddings and funerals) and for commercial or entertainment purposes, as well as other inappropriate use of the national anthem (as ringtone, for example). The draft law would likely also ban alterations of official lyrics of the national anthem. We expect the NPCSC to pass the bill after at least two reviews and to apply the approved law to Macau and Hong Kong.

Next up are two bills submitted by two NPC special committees. A draft Soil Pollution Prevention and Control Law, submitted by the NPC Environmental Protection and Resources Conservation Committee, will become China’s first national legislation dealing specifically with soil pollution. In addition, the NPC Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee submitted draft revisions to the Specialized Farmers’ Cooperatives Law. We expect both bills to pass after three deliberations by the NPCSC.

The State Council submitted the fourth new bill: a draft Public Libraries Law. A previous version of the draft (Word) was released for public comments in late 2015. It contains six chapters with 42 articles, seeking to establish a “practical and convenient” network of public libraries that covers both urban and rural areas. At least two reviews by the NPCSC await the bill.

Lastly, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate submitted draft amendments to the Administrative Litigation Law and the Civil Procedure Law. Though the content of the draft amendments has yet to be made public, we expect them to codify new procedures for the people’s procuratorates’ filing of public interest lawsuits—which is currently being piloted in 13 provinces. These amendments come somewhat surprisingly because it appears that, even before the pilot period ends next month, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate has already found the new procedures mature enough to be written into law. Depending on the scope of the amendments, we expect the NPCSC to pass them after either two or three reviews.

That brings us to the potential new item on the Session’s agenda: a draft State Supervision Law. We believe it may be added to the agenda at the last minute for two reasons. First, the NPCSC’s 2017 legislative plan has scheduled it for the June session. Second, the sentence in the press release listing the bills submitted by the Council of Chairmen (which is in charge of submitting this law) ends with “等” (or “et cetera”), signifying (as it did before) that there might be another bill.

Other Matters

The NPCSC will also consider the following matters (among others) at its upcoming session:

  • It is set to approve extradition treaties with Argentina and Ethiopia as well as the Central Government’s final accounts for 2016;
  • It will hear the State Council’s reports on the auditing of the execution of the 2016 Central Budget and on drug administration, as well as NPCSC law enforcement inspection teams’ reports on the enforcement inspections of the Drug Administration Law and the Product Quality Law;
  • It is also expected to approve new cabinet appointments: Wang Menghui (王蒙徽) as the Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, and Li Ganjie (李干杰) as the Minister of Environmental Protection.

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