NPCSC Session Watch: Criminal Justice, Maritime & Military Affairs, Hainan Free Trade Port, Food Waste & a Lot More (Updated)

UPDATE (Dec. 21, 2020): According to an NPCSC spokesperson, the NPCSC will continue deliberating the draft revision to the Rural Revitalization Promotion Law and the draft Coast Guard law in 2021. These two bills thus will not pass at this NPCSC session.

On Friday, November 27, the Council of Chairpersons took the unusual step of announcing the next NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) session almost a month in advance. It decided that the 13th NPCSC will convene for its 24th session from December 22 and 26 and tentatively placed a whopping 18 legislative bills on the agenda, including 16 draft laws and 2 draft decisions. There is a little something for everyone: the bills touch on issues ranging from criminal justice to military affairs, from trade and intellectual property to maritime issues. A quick preview of the session follows.

Draft Laws

Returning Bills

Eight bills return for further review.

First, the draft amendments to the NPC Organic Law [全国人民代表大会组织法] and the NPC Rules of Procedure [全国人民代表大会议事规则] will return for their second review. We expect the NPCSC to submit the two bills to next year’s NPC session for a final review on the last day of its session next month.

Second, the draft Yangtze River Protection Law [长江保护法], draft Criminal Law Amendment (XI) [刑法修正案(十一)], and draft revision to the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Law [预防未成年人犯罪法] will return for their third review. While all three will most likely pass next month, we would not rule out the possibility of a fourth and final review for the juvenile delinquency bill.

Third, the draft Rural Revitalization Promotion Law [乡村振兴促进法], draft Coast Guard Law [海警法], and draft revision to the National Defense Law [国防法] will also return for a second round of deliberations. All three are likely to pass, but a third and final review for each is also possible.

We will offer summaries of any bill adopted at the session next month.

New Bills

The NPCSC will consider eight new bills next month.

First, the Council of Chairpersons submitted the following three bills:

  • a draft Hainan Free Trade Port Law [海南自由贸易港法], which would provide legal support for the authorities’ plan to turn the Hainan Island into a free trade port;
  • a draft Anti–Food Waste Law [反食品浪费法], which comes after Xi Jinping called the issue of food waste in China “shocking and distressing” and stressed the need for legislation and long-term mechanisms to stop food waste; and
  • a draft Anti–Organized Crime Law [反有组织犯罪法], which would will likely codify the measures taken during the ongoing campaign to “clear out underworld forces” [扫黑除恶].

Second, the NPC Supervisory and Judicial Affairs Committee submitted a draft Supervisors Law [监察官法]. The so-called “supervisors” [监察官] are the state employees who staff the supervision commissions and exercise the supervisory power—basically, the power to investigate conduct abusing public office and hand out sanctions. This bill would implement an article in the 2018 Supervision Law [监察法] providing that the ranks, appointments and removals, evaluations, and promotions of supervisors are to be separately prescribed by law.

Third, the State Council submitted a draft revision to the Maritime Traffic Safety Law [海上交通安全法]. This bill would be the first major update of the statute since its enactment in 1983. Together with the pending Coast Guard Law, the bill would lay down rules with implications for China’s maritime claims in the East and South China Seas. A previous version of the draft revision has been criticized for being incompatible in certain aspects with international maritime law.

Finally, the State Council and the Central Military Commission jointly submitted three military-related bills:

Along with the pending National Defense Law revision and the recently enacted Veterans Support Law [退役军人保障法], these bills reflect a concerted effort to update China’s military statutes, with a particular emphasis on offering more protections for China’s servicemembers and veterans.

All these new bills will likely pass after three reviews.

Draft Decisions

Two draft decisions have also been submitted for review.

The first, submitted by the Council of Chairpersons, is a decision on strengthening the oversight of state assets management. It would likely codify two 2019 official documents on the NPCSC’s oversight of the State Council’s management of state assets. We have discussed the documents in this post.

The second, submitted by the Supreme People’s Court, would create a specialized Hainan Free Trade Port Intellectual Property Court, likely at the intermediate level. It would be China’s fourth intellectual property court, after ones in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, established in 2014.

We expect the NPCSC to approve both decisions next month.

Next month, the NPCSC will also adopt a decision to convene the 2021 NPC session. And we expect it to hear a report by the Legislative Affairs Commission on its effort to record and review sub-statutory documents in 2020.

Correction (Nov. 29, 2020): A previous version of this post mistakenly stated that the Council of Chairpersons submitted both draft decisions.

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