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

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.

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Explainer: How Seats in China’s National People’s Congress Are Allocated

Delegates voting by a show of hands at the inaugural session of the First NPC in 1954.

China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) is the largest legislature in the world. Since 1986, its size has been capped by the Election Law for the National People’s Congress and Local People’s Congresses at All Levels (Election Law) [全国人民代表大会和地方各级人民代表大会选举法] at 3,000. The delegates are indirectly elected every five years to represent thirty-five electoral units: the thirty-one provincial administrative regions in mainland China, the Chinese military, as well as Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan.

Under the Election Law, NPC delegates must be “broadly representative” [广泛的代表性]. To that end, the Law requires in general terms that various demographic groups, including women and ethnic minorities, have “appropriate” representation in the NPC. Since the Reform Era (1978–), each NPC has, at its last session, adopted a “decision on the quotas and elections” of delegates to the next NPC—referred to below as a “Master Allocation Plan” or “Master Plan”—that puts the Election Law’s general requirements in more concrete terms. (The Master Plan for the 14th NPC was recently adopted on March 11.) The Plans have either allocated a specific number of seats to a certain demographic group or set forth guidelines on a group’s representation in the next NPC.

Below, we first explain how seats in the NPC have been allocated among the various electoral units and demographic groups to achieve a demographically diverse membership, before briefly taking a look at the non-demographic criteria for selecting NPC delegates.

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2022 NPC Session: Documents List

The 5th Session of the 13th NPC concluded on Friday, March 11, after having approved all reports and bills submitted to it for consideration. As usual, below we have compiled a list of all official documents from this Session. Unless otherwise noted, all documents are available in Chinese only. The NPC’s votes on bills and resolutions are also listed below in brackets, in the order of yea – nay – abstention, followed by the number of delegates not voting (NV).

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NPC Amends Governing Law of Local People’s Congresses & Governments, Tightens Rules for NPC Elections in Hong Kong & Macao

The NPC concluded its annual session in 2022 on Friday, March 11. Among other actions taken, it approved four pieces of legislation: the first set of major amendments to the Organic Law of Local People’s Congresses at All Levels and Local People’s Governments at All Levels (“Local Organic Law”) [地方各级人民代表大会和地方各级人民政府组织法] in over two decades; a decision governing the elections of delegates to the next (14th) NPC; and two measures for electing 14th NPC delegates from Hong Kong and Macao, respectively. We will cover the decision on 14th NPC elections in a forthcoming post that looks at how seats in the NPC are allocated to various electoral units and demographic groups. Below, we briefly summarize the other three pieces of legislation.

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Translations: New Legislation on Chengdu-Chongqing Financial Court & Military Ranks for PLA Soldiers

The 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded its 33rd session on Monday, February 28 adopted two short decisions that, respectively, established a Chengdu-Chongqing Financial Court and codified a system of ranks for the active-duty soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Below we translated the decisions and offered some brief explanations.

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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.

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The Chinese Legislature’s Hidden Agenda

On February 9, I published in The Diplomat an article titled The Chinese Legislature’s Hidden Agenda. It begins this way:

For about a decade, China’s national legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), made real improvements to its transparency. In 2008, it started soliciting public comments once on almost every major bill. Since 2013, it has been asking for comments multiple times for the same bill. In 2015, it codified “legislative openness” as a guiding principle for lawmaking. Most recently, in the summer of 2019, the NPC established a spokesperson’s office to offer greater and more regular disclosure of its legislative activities, including brief summaries of public input on draft legislation.

In the past two years, however, the legislature has appeared increasingly tempted to embrace the secrecy afforded by the Great Hall of the People. It has been withholding legislative drafts at a greater frequency—five in 2020–2021 alone versus five total during 2015–2019. It has also started to hide certain bills on its legislative agenda from the public until shortly before or, worse, until after their adoption. This practice not only departs from the legislature’s transparency norm, but is also at odds with the party-state’s legal reform agenda and recent official rhetoric on China’s political system. Yet the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is now poised to write this practice into law, in effect guaranteeing its continued use, and once again highlighting the party-state’s competing desires for legal predictability and flexibility.

In this post, I will share the data underlying this article and discuss more arcana of the NPCSC’s agenda-disclosure practice. I thus highly recommend that you read the above article first before continuing.

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NPC Calendar: February 2022

The 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) will convene for its 33rd session late this month. The Council of Chairpersons is expected to meet soon after the Lunar New Year holiday (which ends on February 7) to decide on the agenda and dates of the session. The NPCSC will mainly make preparations for the 2022 NPC session at its upcoming meeting, but is still likely to review one or two legislative bills. Possible candidates include:

Year in Review: The NPC and the Observer in 2021

As we bid farewell to 2021, we look back at the National People’s Congress’s and our work in the past year.

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NPC Calendar: January 2022

The following laws take effect on January 1:

The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is seeking public comments on the following bills through January 22:

The NPCSC will convene for its next regularly scheduled session in late February.