NPC (Observer) Year-End Review: 2017 Edition

As 2017 is about to come to an end, we took some time to review the NPC’s and this Blog’s work in this past year.

The NPC in 2017

Starting with some numbers. In 2017, the NPCSC held six sessions, which lasted for a total of 29.5 days (yep, you read that correctly), while the NPC met for a single 10.5-day session in March. Altogether, they adopted seven new laws, revised another seven (excluding amendments passed after a single round of deliberation), and reviewed an additional 13 legislative bills (see lists at the end of this section). By purely numerical standard, 2017 is the 12th NPC’s most productive year of its five-year term, which ends next March (see graph below).

12th NPC Lawmaking 2017
* Excluding decisions on legal issues (e.g., reform authorizations) and legislative interpretations.
** Excluding amendments passed after a single round of deliberation.

In keeping with the year-end list-making tradition, we present the following list of highlights or trends we see in the NPC(SC)’s work in 2017:

  1. With the NPCSC’s legislative support, the supervision system reform is moving forward at full speed. Last week, the NPCSC decided to submit the draft Supervision Law to the 2018 NPC session for deliberation, after having reviewed it twice in 2017. In the meantime, it also authorized supervision commissions to be established nationwide.
  2. The NPC took the crucial first step to enact China’s first Civil Code. On March 15, 2017, it passed the General Provisions of the Civil Law, a set of guiding principles for the rest of the Code, which was first envisioned more than a half century ago.
  3. The NPCSC started to codify the latest round of judicial reforms. In 2017, it wrote into law the procuratorates’ authority to file public interest lawsuits, instituted a new national qualification exam for the legal profession, and reviewed four important legislations seeking to revamp the judicial system.
  4. The NPCSC’s review of lower-level legislations for constitutional or statutory violations seems to have grown more teeth in 2017. In its first-ever report to the NPCSC on such legality and constitutionality review, the NPCSC Legislative Affairs Commission (the body carrying out the review) noted multiple instances where it found local regulations and judicial interpretations inconsistent with national laws and ordered the promulgating authorities to revise them.
  5. To implement the Communist Party’s directives and policies, the NPCSC continues to pass (and draft) legislations that infringe on civil rights. Cases in point:
    • The National Anthem Law (and its implementing criminal statute, the Criminal Law Amendment X) and the draft Heroes and Martyrs Protection Law, both personally overseen by President Xi Jinping, further restrict free speech rights.
    • The vaguely and broadly worded National Intelligence Law grants intelligence officials sweeping and virtually unchecked powers.
    • The draft Supervision Law deprives public officials under disciplinary or criminal investigation of certain safeguards that are available to other citizens.

New laws passed in 2017:

  1. General Provisions of the Civil Law (民法总则)
  2. National Intelligence Law (国家情报法)
  3. Nuclear Safety Law (核安全法)
  4. National Anthem Law (国歌法)
  5. Public Libraries Law (公共图书馆法)
  6. Tobacco Leaf Tax Law (烟叶税法)
  7. Vessel Tonnage Tax Law (船舶吨税法)

Revisions passed in 2017:

  1. Red Cross Society Law (Revision) 红十字会法(修订)
  2. Surveying and Mapping Law (Revision) 测绘法(修订)
  3. Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law (Revision) 水污染防治法(修订)
  4. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Promotion Law (Revision) 中小企业促进法(修订)
  5. Law Against Unfair Competition (Revision) 反不正当竞争法(修订)
  6. Standardization Law (Revision) 标准化法(修订)
  7. Specialized Farmers’ Cooperatives Law (Revision) 农民专业合作社法(修订)

Other legislative bills considered in 2017:

  1. People’s Courts Organic Law (Revision) 人民法院组织法(修订)
  2. People’s Procuratorates Organic Law (Revision) 人民检察院组织法(修订)
  3. Judges Law (Revision) 法官法(修订)
  4. Procurators Law (Revision) 检察官法(修订)
  5. People’s Assessors Law 人民陪审员法
  6. Rural Land Contracting Law (Amendment) 农村土地承包法(修正)
  7. Securities Law (Revision) 证券法(修订)
  8. Supervision Law 监察法
  9. Basic Healthcare and Health Promotion Law 基本医疗卫生与健康促进法
  10. Soil Pollution Prevention and Control Law 土壤污染防治法
  11. International Criminal Justice Assistance Law 国际刑事司法协助法
  12. E-Commerce Law 电子商务法
  13. Heroes and Martyrs Protection Law 英雄烈士保护法

The NPC Observer in 2017

In 2017, the Blog published 47 posts and received more than 29,000 views by visitors from 88 jurisdictions worldwide. Most of that traffic (20,000+ views) came from mainland China, and was attracted by a single post: the first draft of the Supervision Law. Many thanks to the stranger(s) who posted the link to this blog post somewhere on the Chinese Internet.

We also added a lot of resources on the Blog in 2017. Starting with the menu bar:

  • Under “References,” you will find a bilingual organizational chart of the NPC, a glossary that explains some of the terms that frequently appear on this Blog, and a set of step-by-step instructions for navigating the NPC’s online public comments system.
  • Under “Archives,” you will find a compilation of the NPCSC’s annual work reports to the NPC, its annual legislative and oversight plans, and its five-year legislative plans (all since 2013); all are downloadable as PDFs. There, you will also find two archives of the draft laws released for public comments by the NPCSC and State Council bodies, respectively; all drafts are also downloadable as PDFs.

Moving on to the sidebar:

  • Updated every month, the NPC Calendar widget offers a quick glance at the NPC-related events taking place each month. We also publish the NPC Calendar as monthly blog posts, which contain more information than the sidebar widget.
  • The annotated versions of the current NPCSC’s five-year legislative plan, as well as its annual legislative and oversight plans can be directly accessed from the sidebar.
  • We added two lists of NPC-related laws that are fundamental to understanding the NPC(SC), one in Chinese and the other in English. But because many of these laws are not available in English, the English list is shorter than the Chinese one.
  • There is also a section of official NPC resources, including the comprehensive Chinese Laws and Regulations Database (中国法律法规信息库) and all issues of the NPCSC Gazette.

* * *

Today concludes the Blog’s first full year of publishing. In 2017, we have taken great pleasure in reporting on the NPC(SC) and providing relevant analysis and observations. And we hope that you, our readers, have found them helpful or informative. As a new NPC(SC) is about to take office in just a few months, 2018 will surely be a special year (for the Blog at least). We have great contents planned for the new year and cannot wait to share them with you.

Best wishes to everyone in 2018!

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