NPCSC Session Watch: Telecom Fraud, Wildlife Protection, Ecological Conservation of the Tibetan Plateau & Counterespionage

The Council of Chairpersons decided on Friday, July 29 to convene the 36th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) over a month later, from August 30 to September 2. With only five bills, the legislative agenda is comparatively light for a session held in August and in the last year of an NPCSC’s term. Perhaps the pace of legislation will pick up later in the year. Below we briefly preview the upcoming session.

Three bills return for further review.

The draft Law Against Telecom and Online Fraud [反电信网络诈骗法] and the draft revision to the Agricultural Products Quality and Safety Law [农产品质量安全法] return for their third and final review. We will discuss these bills in more detail in our post-session recap.

The draft revision to the Wild Animals Protection Law [野生动物保护法] returns for a second review, almost two years after its initial reading in October 2020. We expect it to undergo a third and final review in the near future.

Two new bills have been submitted for review.

First, the NPC Supervisory and Judicial Affairs Committee submitted a draft revision to the Counterespionage Law [反间谍法], which was listed as a lower-priority project in the NPCSC’s 2022 legislative plan. The Law was enacted in 2014 to replace the 1993 National Security Law [国家安全法] (not to be confused with the 2015 statute of the same name). It is so far unclear what the focus or direction of this new round of overhaul would be. We expect the revision to pass after two or three reviews.

Second, the NPC Environmental Protection and Resources Conservation Committee submitted a draft Qinghai–Tibet Plateau Ecological Conservation Law [青藏高原生态保护法] for review. The bill is representative of the NPCSC’s environmental legislation since 2020, which is devoted to specific geographical features that span multiple provincial-level regions, such as the Yangtze River and the Yellow River. The bill is also a high-profile project: NPCSC Chairman Li Zhanshu has characterized it as a direct measure to implement General Secretary Xi Jinping’s “important instructions” on ecological conservation of the Tibetan Plateau and disclosed that Xi had personally greenlit the project in late 2021. Just two weeks ago, Li led a research tour into Tibet, during which he chaired a seminar on the bill and delivered detailed remarks on how to improve the draft. We expect the Law to pass after three reviews.

The NPCSC will also hear a number of oversight reports at its upcoming session, which could explain the light legislative agenda.

The State Council will deliver its mid-year reports on the implementation of the 2022 plan for social and economic development and the 2022 central budget. These reports could be particularly interesting to watch this year as the Communist Party walked back from the original GDP growth target for 2022 at this week’s Politburo meeting.

The State Council will also submit a report on its work on the elderly, to be heard alongside a report by an NPCSC research group on the government’s efforts to address population aging and promote eldercare services.

The NPCSC will, moreover, hear from its law enforcement inspection teams on the implementation of the Science and Technology Popularization Law [科学技术普及法] and the Environmental Protection Law [环境保护法]. On the latter statute’s implementation, the NPCSC will hold a hearing—called a “special inquiry” [专题询问]—with the relevant State Council officials attending to respond to lawmakers’ questions.

Finally, the Supreme People’s Court will present a mid-term report on the pilot program to reposition the adjudicatory roles of China’s four tiers of courts. The pilot is currently scheduled to expire in October 2023.

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