NPCSC Session Watch: Civil Code, Securities Law, Yangtze River Protection, Taiwanese Investments & Export Control (Updated)

UPDATE (Dec. 17, 2019): It appears that a complete Civil Code has indeed been submitted for review at the NPCSC’s upcoming session. Here is an unofficial but authentic draft (PDF).

The Council of Chairpersons decided on Monday, December 16 to convene the 15th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) from December 23 to 28. The NPCSC will review at least 11 legislative bills at its upcoming six-day session. A quick rundown follows.

Returning Bills

Six draft laws will return for further review. Because most will likely pass, we will leave summaries of them for our post-session recap and accordingly our discussion below will be brief.

First, the NPCSC will once again consider all separate parts of the draft Civil Code [民法典], which govern, respectively, contracts, rights in rem, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance, and tort liability. It was previously announced that the NPCSC would consider at this month’s session an entire draft Civil Code: the separate parts along with the 2017 General Provisions of the Civil Law [民法总则] incorporated as the Code’s general part. There thus appears to have been a change of plan, based on the readout of yesterday’s Council meeting, although a complete draft Code could still be submitted to the NPCSC during the upcoming six-day session. If so, we then expect the NPCSC to adopt a decision submitting the draft Code to next year’s full NPC session on December 28.

Second, the draft revision to the Securities Law [证券法] and the draft Basic Healthcare and Health Promotion Law [基本医疗卫生与健康促进法] will both return for their fourth review. We expect both to pass.

Third, the draft revision to the Forest Law [森林法] and the draft Community Corrections Law [社区矫正法] will both return for their third review. We expect both to pass as well.

Finally, the draft revision to the Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Waste [固体废物污染环境防治法] returns for a second round of deliberations. We expect it to pass after another review, although we would not rule out of the possibility that the NPCSC would approve it next week.

New Bills

Five new bills have been submitted for review.

First, the NPC Environmental Protection and Resources Conservation Committee has submitted for review a draft Yangtze River Protection Law [长江保护法], a top-priority project in the 13th NPCSC’s five-year legislative plan. This new bill comes after NPCSC Chairman Li Zhanshu chaired a high-profile symposium on the bill in June. The Law would be China’s first environmental law dedicated to a specific geographic feature. We expect it to pass after two or three reviews.

Second, the State Council has submitted a draft amendment to the Law on the Protection of Investment by Taiwan Compatriots [台湾同胞投资保护法]. We expect the amendment to follow the spirit of the Foreign Investment Law [外商投资法], which does not regulate Taiwanese investments. If so, we expect the amendment to pass on December 28 and to take effect along with the Foreign Investment Law on January 1, 2020.

Third, the State Council has also submitted a draft Export Control Law [出口管制法], another top-priority project in the NPCSC’s legislative plan. The Ministry of Commerce solicited public comments on a prior draft in summer 2017. We expect the Law to pass after two or three reviews.

Finally, the State Council submitted to draft tax laws: a draft Urban Maintenance and Construction Tax Law [城市维护建设税法] and a draft Deed Tax Law [契税法]. Both are top-priority legislative projects and part of the NPCSC’s plan to elevate all tax regulations to statutes by 2020. China’s finance and tax authorities solicited public comments on an earlier draft of the former bill, but curiously not on the latter bill. We expect both to pass after two reviews, likely in mid-2020.

The readout uses the word “等,” which has historically signaled that the session’s finalized agenda would include additional bills. Stay tuned.

Recording & Review Updates

We wish to flag two other details in the readout of the Council’s meeting; both relate to the NPCSC’s recording & review process [备案审查].

First, the NPCSC Legislative Affairs Commission will report to the NPCSC next week on its recording & review work in 2019. We will report on any interesting data or cases mentioned in the report.

Second, the Council of Chairpersons at its meeting yesterday adopted Measures on the Work of Recording and Reviewing Regulations and Judicial Interpretations [法规、司法解释备案审查工作办法]. These Measures appear to update and unify previously separate rules governing the review process for different types of regulations. The readout said that the Council approved the Measures “in principle,” which means there would some more tweaks to the Measures before they are finalized. We will publish a summary of the new rules if and when they are made public.

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