NPCSC Session Watch: NPC Preparations, Military Ranks, Chengdu-Chongqing Financial Court & Report on SPC Intellectual Property Tribunal

Skyline of Yuzhong District, Chongqing. By arthurw王.

The Council of Chairpersons decided on Friday, February 18 to convene the 33rd session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) from February 27 to 28. The main purpose of this two-day meeting is to prepare for the upcoming NPC session, which is scheduled to open on March 5. The meeting will, for instance, propose an agenda for the NPC session and discuss the NPCSC’s annual work report to the NPC. The meeting will therefore review only two simple bills and one report. A brief rundown follows.

First, the Central Military Commission (CMC) submitted a draft decision on the ranks for active-duty soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army. These soldiers consist of non-commissioned officers [军士] and conscripts [义务兵], and their ranks system is currently governed by regulations jointly promulgated by the State Council and the CMC in 2010. (A separate national law governs the ranks of commissioned officers [军官].) It is not clear what prompted the CMC to propose such legislation at this time; it may have done so to comply with the constitutional requirement that “systems of . . . ranks for military . . . personnel” be prescribed by the NPCSC. The decision may simply codify the relevant provisions of the regulations as is, or may make some changes to the current system of enlisted ranks.

The decision will likely pass on February 28, but could also undergo an additional review later in the year.

Second, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) submitted a draft decision to establish a “Chengdu-Chongqing Financial Court” [成渝金融法院]. This proposed specialized court is part of a coordinated effort to integrate Chongqing (one of China’s four provincial-level cities) and Chengdu (the provincial capital of Sichuan) into China’s fourth economic cluster, called the “Chengdu-Chongqing Twin City Economic Circle” [成渝双城经济圈], after the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Yangtze River Delta, and Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. One core goal of the project, according to a master plan released by the Communist Party and State Council in late 2021, is to turn the Chengdu-Chongqing area into a “western financial center.” The new financial court would serve to “improve the financial adjudication system” and “strengthen the professionalization and internationalization of financial adjudication.”

Like the legislation that created China’s first two financial courts in Shanghai and Beijing, the decision is expected to prescribe the jurisdiction of the Chengdu-Chongqing court and the method for appointing its judges. If its name is any indication, the new court could be China’s first court (besides the SPC) that exercises jurisdiction over (parts of) different provinces. The decision is expected to pass on February 28.

Finally, the SPC also submitted a report on the implementation of the 2018 NPCSC decision that authorizes direct appeals to the SPC’s Intellectual Property Tribunal in certain categories of “highly technical” intellectual property cases, bypassing provincial high courts. The decision requires the SPC to submit such a report to the NPCSC after it has been in force for three years. The SPC has characterized its Intellectual Property Tribunal as an “advance exploration” [先行探索], so it could propose changes to the appeals process in those cases based on last three years’ experience.

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