UPDATE (Jan. 29, 2019): On the morning of January 29, the NPCSC decided to submit the draft Foreign Investment Law to the 2019 NPC session for deliberation (and most certainly adoption). It is unclear at this point whether it will release the second draft of the Law for public comments, but as we argued below, the chance is slim. We very briefly noted the main new provisions in the newest draft on Twitter:
The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) conducted an initial review of the draft Foreign Investment Law [外商投资法] last December but took no further action. Readers may recall that we then explained what we saw as the (only) two potential legislative timetables for the Law: It will be adopted by the NPC either this March (after another NPCSC review in late February) or in March 2020 (after a few more readings in 2019). The longer process would not help show China’s willingness to comply with certain demands the United States made during trade negotiations, while the shorter one faces procedural hurdles under Chinese law.
Faced with two imperfect choices, the NPCSC has decided to take an unexpected third approach. It will convene for a special session from January 29 to 30 to conduct a second review of the draft Foreign Investment Law, the Council of Chairmen announced on Wednesday. At the end of the two-day session, the NPCSC will most certainly submit the Law to the NPC, which will then most certainly approve it at its annual session in March.
Will the NPCSC seek public opinion on another draft of the Law? Probably not. The draft it reviewed last December is open for public comments till February 24—almost a month after the special session ends. It is unlikely that the NPCSC will solicit comments on two different versions of the same law simultaneously. It is also unlikely that it will release a new draft for comments after February 24 because the NPC will meet just nine days later (the usual comments period is 30 days long). We would not be too surprised, however, if it does either of these two things, as it seems that legislative norms do not all apply to the Law.
But if the NPCSC ends up deciding not to release another draft for public comments, then the next time we see a public version of the Law will be after it passes the NPC in mid-March.
We will update this blog post for any news from the special session. No separate post is planned.