The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded its session this month on April 20, 2022. It adopted the Futures and Derivatives Law [期货和衍生品法], which will introduce “a comprehensive legal framework for the operation of futures and over-the-counter derivatives markets in China.” The NPCSC also comprehensively revised the Vocational Education Law [职业教育法], the statute’s first update since its enactment in 1996, with the policy goal of cultivating “high-quality technical and skilled personnel” and “providing powerful talent and skill support” for socialist modernization. Due to our lack of expertise on these subjects, however, we are unable to offer more in-depth summaries or analyses of these two laws.
Instead, we would like to briefly discuss a less important development from this week’s NPCSC session: adjustments to the provinces’ representation in the national legislature. In March, the NPC passed a decision requiring the NPCSC to calculate each province’s seats in the next (14th) NPC according to a prescribed formula. As we recently introduced, each province starts with 8 seats, and receives an additional seat for every 700,000 citizens. But that is not all. Each province will also be given a third group of seats: some are allocated to the relevant ethnic minorities and other sectors of the society to achieve a broadly representative NPC membership, whereas the rest are reserved for the incoming “Central Leadership,” including national party-state leaders and other senior officials.
The NPCSC approved a preliminary allocation plan for the 14th NPC on Wednesday (see graph below). It is only “preliminary” (though not officially designated as such) because the 255 Central Leadership seats will not be apportioned among the provinces until the Communist Party leadership decides on a slate of nominees later this year. The allocation of those seats will be reflected in the number of delegates elected from each province next January.
Although NPC seats are technically re-allocated every five years, in the past two decades the NPC has ordered a true recalculation only after a decennial population census (which last occurred in 2020)—even though official census data are not always used as the sole basis for seat allocation.
The changes in provincial representation made by Wednesday’s allocation plan are generally consistent with the provinces’ population changes in the last decade. Fourteen provinces gained seats, with Guangdong gaining the most (nine), thanks to its highest population growth in the country since 2010. Ten provinces lost seats. Most notably, the three northeastern “rust belt” provinces—Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang—have collectively lost 21 seats, due to their severe population decline in the past decade.
Some provinces have also lost seats despite population growths, such as Jiangsu and Shandong. That might be because, as we mentioned, the NPCSC does not necessarily use official census data to calculate a province’s seats. For the 12th NPC, for instance, it used a weighted average of the 2010 census data and late 2010 household registration data. A province’s out-of-province migrant population was partially included in the former but excluded from the latter. Thus, a province with a significant migrant population might lose seats under that formula. But note that most of the Central Leadership seats have historically gone to those more populous or more powerful provinces, so they may well end up gaining seats in the next NPC.