Starting in December 2017, we will publish the NPC Calendar as monthly blog posts instead of a widget in the Blog’s sidebar and a series of tweets—however short the Calendar for a particular month may be (in other words, we are going to do this SCOTUSblog-style). This change will make it easier for us to (if necessary) provide a lot more details about NPC-related events each month. The NPC Calendar widget in the sidebar will remain, but will contain a lot less information than the blog post versions so as to provide our readers with a quick overview of NPC-related information each month.
The 12th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) will convene for its 31st—and the second last—session in late December. The Council of Chairmen is expected to meet next week to decide on the date and agenda of the 31st Session.
A 2015 NPCSC authorization that suspended the application of certain provisions of the Property Law and the Guaranty Law, thereby allowing the rights to use cultivated land and house sites (宅基地) to be mortgaged in select localities, will expire on December 31. We expect the State Council to request an extension of the authorization at the 31st Session as it has apparently yet to draft amendments to the two laws to codify the reform.
Another 2015 NPCSC decision—which renewed for another two years a 2012 NPCSC decision authorizing the State Council to suspend enforcement of an array of statutory provisions on administrative review and approval (行政审批) in Guangdong Province—will also expire on December 31, unless the State Council submits bills amending the relevant laws consistent with the authorization by January 1, 2018. Otherwise the affected provisions will again be enforced in Guangdong starting next year. We expect the State Council to submit draft amendments to the 31st Session to codify at least some of the changes made by the authorization after five years of trial.
We also expect the 31st Session to review and approve a Cooperation Arrangement between Hong Kong and the Mainland concerning the immigration/customs clearance procedures at the West Kowloon Station (located within Hong Kong) of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL). The Cooperation Arrangement allows Mainland law enforcement officers to enforce Mainland laws (on immigration, customs, public security, etc.) within a designated area inside the West Kowloon Station—hence physically within Hong Kong—called the “Mainland Port Area.” (The compartments of XRL trains in operation within Hong Kong will also be deemed part of the Mainland Port Area.) The full text of the Cooperation Arrangement won’t be released until after the 31st Session ends; the foregoing information comes from this Hong Kong Government press release.
Regarding legislations, it is almost certain that the 31st Session will conduct a third and final reading of the E-Commerce Law (电子商务法). The draft Supervision Law (监察法) will most likely return as well for its second reading, due to the reasons we elaborated in this post. Moreover, the Session will likely review again the draft Soil Pollution Prevention and Control Law (土壤污染防治法) and draft revision to the Specialized Farmers’ Cooperatives Law (农民专业合作社法); both were first submitted six months ago.
In addition, it is possible that the Session will deliberate a draft Community Correction Law (社区矫正法) and a draft Basic Health Care Law (基本医疗卫生法) in accordance with the NPCSC’s 2017 legislative plan. There is also a possibility that the Session will consider a draft International Criminal Justice Assistance Law (国际刑事司法协助法), originally tentatively scheduled for the NPCSC’s October session this year (also per the 2017 legislative plan). Other draft legislations—especially those in the 12th NPCSC’s five-year legislative plan and on which the State Council has solicited public comments more than a year ago—could also potentially end up on the agenda of the 31st Session, but it is hard to predict which one(s).
Finally, as we discussed in our previous post, if the Communist Party has decided to pass a constitutional amendment at next year’s NPC session, the 31st Session will most likely be the occasion where such a decision is revealed. (The Politburo has met twice since we published the last blog post, and there was no report of any discussion of amending the Constitution. But the official reports (websites contain auto-playing videos) by Xinhua do indicate that each meeting also discussed some other undisclosed matters. These matters may or may not include amending the Constitution—we’ll know for sure later this month.)