NPCSC Session Watch: Women’s Rights, NPC Seats Allocation, Forced Labor Conventions & More

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The Council of Chairpersons decided on Monday, April 11 to convene the 34th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) from April 18 to 20. Five legislative bills are on the tentative agenda, along with three documents relating to the elections of delegates to the next NPC. As usual, a quick rundown on the agenda follows.

Legislation

Five legislative bills return for further review; no new bill was submitted to this session.

The Futures and Derivatives Law [期货和衍生品法] and the draft revision to the Vocational Education Law [职业教育法] return for their third and final review.

Three other bills return for a second review: draft revision to the Sports Law [体育法], draft Black Soil Protection Law [黑土地保护法], and draft revision to the Women’s Rights and Interests Protection Law [妇女权益保障法]. An additional and final review likely awaits each of them.

Among these bills, the proposed revision to the women’s rights law has garnered the most public attention. During the 30-day consultation period ending in late January, over 85,000 people submitted more than 420,000 comments—an intensive level of popular participation that is rarely seen. After the Xuzhou chained woman incident came to light in late January and provoked public outrage, multiple NPC delegates submitted proposals calling for revising the women’s right law to crack down on trafficking in women and to better protect female victims. It is likely that the draft to be reviewed next week would include new provisions on this topic.

14th NPC Elections

Next week, the NPCSC will also consider three documents relating to 14th NPC elections. Two concern the allocation of seats in the 14th NPC: one would allocate all 3,000 seats among the 35 electoral units (i.e., the 31 mainland provinces, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and the Chinese military), and the other would more specifically allocate the 360 seats reserved for ethnicity minorities among the 55 officially recognized minority groups and relevant electoral units. For more information, please see our recent in-depth explainer on the allocation of NPC seats.

The third document would lay down rules for selecting the delegation purportedly representing Taiwan in the 14th NPC. We expect the document to resemble its previous iterations: it will likely create an ad hoc “consultative election meeting” consisting of representatives of “compatriots of Taiwanese ancestry” who hail from all mainland provinces, central Party and state organs, and the military. The meeting is expected to convene in next January to select the 13 delegates who will make up the Taiwanese delegation.

The NPCSC is expected to approve all three documents at the upcoming session.

Forced Labor Conventions

Amid reports of state-sponsored forced labor targeting Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the State Council has requested the NPCSC to ratify two international labor treaties: the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 and the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957. They are among the International Labour Organization’s eight “fundamental conventions” that cover subjects “considered to be fundamental principles and rights at work.”

The 1930 Convention requires member states to “suppress the use of forced or compulsory labour in all its forms” (subject to a few exceptions). The 1957 Convention supplements the 1930 Convention by calling for the prohibition of “any form of forced or compulsory labour” in five specific cases, including where forced labor is used “as a means of political coercion or education or as a punishment for holding or expressing political views or views ideologically opposed to the established political, social or economic system” or “as a means of racial, social, national or religious discrimination.”

According to the readout of the Council of Chairpersons’ meeting, the State Council did not at the same time request ratification of the 2014 Protocol to the 1930 Convention, which requires states to “prevent and eliminate [the use of forced labor], provide to victims protection and access to appropriate and effective remedies,” and “sanction the perpetrators of forced or compulsory labor.”

The NPCSC is expected to ratify the two conventions next week.

With contribution from Taige Hu

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