NPCSC Session Watch: Data Security, Legal Aid, Workplace Safety, Vocational Education & More (Updated)

UPDATE (June 7, 2021): Xinhua reported on June 7 that the NPCSC is also reviewing a draft Anti–Foreign Sanctions Law [反外国制裁法], which underwent a secret first review at the NPCSC’s April session, as well as a draft decision granting the Shanghai legislature authority to enact “Pudong New Area regulations” for the city’s Pudong New Area, an authority that appears comparable to that of cities encompassing special economic zones. Both bills are expected to pass on Thursday, June 10.

On Wednesday, May 26, the Council of Chairpersons decided to convene the 29th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) from June 7 to 10. This session is earlier than a regular NPCSC session, which typically takes place near the end of a month. This could mean either that the NPCSC is holding another session later this month, consistent with a recent Communist Party directive to add legislative sessions to speed up the pace of legislation; or that the NPCSC is making way for the Party’s centenary celebrations around July 1. Some urgent matter could also have required the NPCSC to meet earlier, but we have yet to see any such indication. The NPCSC will review at least ten bills at its upcoming session. A quick rundown follows.

Returning Bills

Eight bills return for further review.

First, the draft Data Security Law [数据安全法], draft Hainan Free Trade Port Law [海南自由贸易港法], and draft Law on the Protection of the Status, Rights, and Interests of Military Personnel [军人地位和权益保障法] all return for their third—and most likely final—review.

Second, the draft Stamp Tax Law [印花税法] returns for a second review, which we also expect to be its last.

Third, the draft revision to the Military Facilities Protection Law [军事设施保护法] and draft amendment to the Workplace Safety Law [安全生产法] also return for their second review. They may pass at the upcoming session, but we would not rule out the possibility of a third and final review.

Finally, the draft Physicians Law [医师法] and draft Legal Aid Law [法律援助法] return for a second round of deliberations as well. We expect them to undergo at least another review, likely later this year.

We will briefly summarize any approved bills in our post-session recap.

According to the NPCSC’s 2021 legislative plan, the draft revision to the Wild Animals Protection Law [野生动物保护法] and draft revision to the Military Service Law [兵役法] were scheduled for the June session, but were not included in the preliminary agenda released on Wednesday.

New Bills

The State Council has submitted two new bills for review.

The draft revision to the Vocational Education Law [职业教育法] was approved by the State Council in late March 2021. The Ministry of Education sought public comments on a previous draft in late 2019. According to the readout of the State Council meeting that approved the latest draft, the revision would further integration of vocational education and the industry as well cooperation between vocational schools and companies, support private vocational schools, and promote mutual recognition of academic achievements between vocational and academic education. We expect this bill to undergo three reviews.

The draft amendment to the Audit Law [审计法] was approved by the State Council earlier this month. The National Audit Office previously released a draft for public comments in March 2019. Again, according to the readout of the State Council meeting that approved the current draft, the amendment would subject more government activities to audit, vest auditing agencies with additional authority, and increase the independence and credibility of the auditing process. We expect this bill to undergo two reviews.

According to the readout of the Council of Chairpersons’ meeting, the NPCSC will also consider a resolution on carrying out the 8th five-year campaign to popularize basic legal knowledge at its upcoming session. The readout ends the list of submitted bills with the character “等,” signaling the session will consider at least one other legislative bill.

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