NPCSC Session Watch: Patent, Export Control, Personal Information Protection, Wildlife Protection & National Defense

On Tuesday, September 29, the Council of Chairpersons decided to convene the 22nd session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) from October 13 to 17. The NPCSC’s regular sessions ordinarily take place during the last ten days of a month. This upcoming session is likely moved forward to make way for the Communist Party’s Fifth Plenum, scheduled from October 26 to 29. The NPCSC will review at least fifteen bills at its five-day session next month. A quick rundown follows.

Returning Bills

Ten bills return for further review.

First, four bills will return for their third—and most likely final—review:

We will briefly summarize them in our post-session recap.

Next, the draft amendments to the National Flag Law [国旗法] and the National Emblem Law [国徽法] will return for their second review and are also likely to pass next month. Since both Laws have been added to Annexes III to the Hong Kong and Macau Basic Laws, thus applicable in the two cities, their local legislatures will also need to update the local implementing ordinances accordingly after the NPCSC approves the amendments.

Finally, four other bills will also return for their second review:

We expect all four to go through at least another review before being approved. The Criminal Law Amendment (XI) is scheduled to pass by the end of the year, according to the NPCSC’s 2020 work report.

New Bills

Five new bills have been submitted for review.

First, the Council of Chairpersons submitted a long-awaited draft Personal Information Protection Law [个人信息保护法]. Based on media reports, the Law would establish a general framework regulating the collection and use of personal information, expand upon existing Civil Code provisions on the protection of personal information, and designate specialized agencies to enforce such protections.

Second, the Council also submitted a draft amendment to the Election Law for the National People’s Congress and Local People’s Congresses at All Levels [全国人民代表大会和地方各级人民代表大会选举法]. The amendment will likely implement the Party’s 2019 Fourth Plenum Decision to “appropriately increase the number of delegates to grassroots-level people’s congresses.”

Third, the NPC Environmental Protection and Resources Conservation Committee submitted a draft revision to the Wild Animals Protection Law [野生动物保护法], in accordance with the special legislative plan formulated in response to COVID-19. Experts have argued that the current Law suffers from a limited scope, lax enforcement, and inadequate penalties for violations. The revision will likely address some of these criticisms while also codifying the NPCSC’s February 2020 ban on consuming all wild terrestrial animals, regardless of their protected status.

Fourth, the State Council and the Central Military Commission (CMC) jointly submitted a draft revision to the National Defense Law [国防法]. The bill would probably codify recent changes to the CMC’s and People’s Liberation Army’s operational structures. It is unclear if other significant reforms are also being contemplated; the bill’s designation as a “revision” suggests that the changes will be extensive.

Finally, the CMC also submitted a draft Coast Guard Law [海警法]. The Law will likely expand upon a 2018 NPCSC decision on the powers of the China Coast Guard, a formerly civilian agency that was integrated into the People’s Armed Police as part of the March 2018 reorganization of state institutions.

The Election Law amendment may pass after one or two reviews, depending on its scope. We expect the other four new bills to pass after three reviews.

The readout of the Council of Chairpersons’ meeting ends the list of submitted bills with the character “等,” signaling the session will consider at least one other bill. We believe the as-yet unannounced bill is a draft revision to the Maritime Traffic Safety Law [海上交通安全法], which the State Council submitted to the NPCSC last week.

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