Year in Review: The NPC and the Observer in 2022

As we bid farewell to 2022, we look back at the National People’s Congress’s and our work in the past year.

The NPC in 2022

2022 was the last full year of the 13th NPC’s term. In March, the 13th NPC held its fifth and final plenary session. At the end of the seven-day meeting, it adopted amendments to the organic law of local governments and people’s congresses as well as rules on the elections of delegates to the 14th NPC, due to convene in just over two months. Over the past year, the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) held six sessions, which lasted only 19 days in total—approximately 7 days shorter than the average over recent years. This was likely the cumulative effect of shortening each NPCSC session as a Covid-control measure. It remains to be seen whether the duration of its sessions will return to normal now that China has drastically relaxed Covid controls.

Despite the shorter amount of time in session, the NPC and its Standing Committee’s legislative workload in 2022 was still on par with that of prior years. Altogether, they enacted 6 new laws, approved major changes to 9 laws, and adopted 7 quasi-legislative decisions. The NPCSC also adopted an interpretation of the Hong Kong National Security Law. An additional 17 bills are pending as of today, and most of them will not be adopted until the 14th NPC. For details, please see the lists at the end of this section.

* Excluding legislative interpretations and quasi-legislative decisions.
Excluding amendments adopted after a single review.
Bills pending by the end of a given year were not all necessarily reviewed during that year.

And here is our annual list of highlights of the NPC’s work in 2022, a relatively uneventful year:

  • Hong Kong: For the third year in a row, the legislature dealt with Hong Kong-related issues. On the penultimate day of 2022, the NPCSC issued its first-ever interpretation of the Hong Kong National Security Law over the issue of whether foreign lawyers not admitted to the Hong Kong bar may participate in national security cases on an ad hoc basis. The NPCSC clarified that Hong Kong’s Chief Executive and Committee for Safeguarding National Security can decide on the question themselves, and their decisions will be binding on the courts. Earlier in the year, the NPC tightened the rules governing the election of Hong Kong’s delegates to the 14th NPC, limiting who may sit on the electoral college and imposing stricter eligibility requirements for candidates.
  • Women’s rights: In October, the NPCSC approved a major overhaul of the Women’s Rights and Interests Protection Law [妇女权益保障法], affording women greater protections at work and against sexual harassment. The bill received a tremendous amount of public attention following the Xuzhou chained woman incident in January: over 166,000 people submitted more than 720,000 comments during the two rounds of public consultation. The revised Law will take effect on January 1, 2023.
    • Relatedly, the NPCSC Legislative Affairs Commission ruled that local regulations must not deny single women access to maternity insurance. The decision came after law professor Liang Hongxia challenged the legality of those regulations through the recording and review process. We have translated Professor Liang’s request in full here.
  • NPC elections: In 2022, the legislature made important preparations for the elections of delegates to the 14th NPC (due to take place in January 2023). In March, the NPC laid down guidelines on the composition of the 14th NPC. A month later, the NPCSC re-allocated the provinces’ seats in the NPC in accordance with the guidelines. The legislature also prescribed rules for electing delegates from Hong Kong and Macao as well as those purportedly representing Taiwan.
  • NPCSC procedural reform: In June, the NPCSC updated its own rules of procedure for the first time in over a decade. As we have discussed in detail, the amended rules “leave room for both deliberation and efficiency in the legislative process, and institutionalize procedural tools that enable more rigorous NPCSC oversight,” thereby enhancing the NPCSC’s lawmaking and oversight capacity.
New laws (and one legislative interpretation) passed in 2022
Revisions & major amendments passed in 2022
Legislative bills pending by the end of 2022

NPC Observer in 2022

We published 43 posts in 2022 and received slightly over 72,500 pageviews by more than 35,000 visitors from 169 jurisdictions worldwide. Because in 2022 there had not been much major news out of the NPC that captured global attention, we experienced the first-ever decrease in annual traffic (a ~37% drop over 2021). Readers from the United States, once again, contributed the most traffic (about a quarter of the total), followed by visitors from Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, mainland China, and Singapore. And over 7,800 of you have followed us on social media. (By the way, we have joined Mastodon and Post.News after the mess at a certain bird site, where we are still the most active, however.)

Our most viewed post last year was our explainer on the allocation of NPC seats, followed by our report on the agenda and daily schedule of the 2022 NPC session and our summary of the Law Against Telecom and Online Fraud [反电信网络诈骗法]. The Women’s Rights and Interests Protection Law page was the most viewed bill page in 2022, followed by those for the Civil Code [民法典], the Anti–Foreign Sanctions Law [反外国制裁法], and the Futures and Derivatives Law [期货和衍生品法].

Our improvements to the site in 2022 focused on refining the bill pages. Our in-depth coverage of bills is now displayed prominently at the top of the relevant bill pages. And as we are no longer summarizing every single bill passed (and will instead focus our energy on those that we think are “important” or “interesting”), we have also started featuring quality third-party analysis and commentary on bill pages. In addition, the pages for newer bills now include additional “metadata,” including more specific drafting bodies, dates of legislative deliberations, and dates of public consultations. We have also started posting charts comparing the different versions of select bills—just look for the delta symbol (Δ)!

That concludes our programming in 2022. Best wishes to everyone in 2023.

Happy New Year!

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