Today is NPC Observer’s fifth birthday. I formally launched the website in my Los Angeles apartment on October 18, 2016. From the very start, it has been my goal to make China’s national legislature more accessible to English readers around the world and improve their understanding of that important institution. My first post went live at almost 11 p.m. that day, when the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) announced an upcoming eight-day session—still the longest one since. (That was the session when the NPCSC controversially interpreted the Hong Kong Basic Law’s oath-taking provision.) The website had just over 500 views by the end of November, and I was both surprised and thrilled. A year later, the first draft of the Supervision Law—I believe we were the first outlet anywhere to post it—drew almost 20,000 views in November 2017 alone.
Our small team—no bigger than three at any given time—is probably the only constant during the past five years. I ran the website myself for the first fourteen months, including my first semester in law school. Over the years, a few people joined the team, made invaluable contributions, and moved on to greater things. Taige Hu, our capable deputy manager, has been with us for over three years and counting. I can’t speak for others, but it is a genuine passion for what we do, a sense of obligation to our growing readership, and of course lots of caffeine—that have kept me going.
In the interim, almost everything else at NPC Observer has changed. We revamped the website’s appearance in late 2018, adopting a livelier header image, new colors, and better fonts for reading. We have also added many new features and functionalities, including some “under the hood” technical upgrades aimed at improving reader experience. In my mind we are no longer just a “blog,” a simple reverse-chronological feed of posts, even though the homepage layout remains the same.
At the same time, more significant changes and events happened at the NPC, many unimaginable five years ago. A new NPC convened in March 2018 and within days voted to approve a historic constitutional amendment. The NPCSC has subtly strengthened oversight of other governmental bodies, including through the invigoration of a mechanism for policing their rogue legislation. The legislature has also increased the volume and pace of legislation, enacting a raft of important laws that attracted global attention, including a series of controversial legislative actions over Hong Kong.
I am immensely grateful for my present and past teammates for helping build NPC Observer into a trusted source on the NPC in less than five years. Our success also owes a great deal to the countless people who read, support, and promote the website, many since the very beginning.
Last week, the Communist Party held its first-ever conference focusing on the people’s congresses. A historic moment for the NPC could be on the horizon, and we are prepared to continue doing our part in covering that increasingly important institution.
Changhao (in my capacity as the founder of NPC Observer)