NPC Calendar: September 2020

The Resource Tax Law [资源税法] and the revised Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Waste [固体废物污染环境防治法] take effect on September 1.

The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is seeking public comments on the following bills through September 30, 2020:

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


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Recording & Review: A Reintroduction

In early 2018, we first gave a detailed introduction to “recording and review” (R&R) [备案审查], an increasingly notable aspect of the oversight by the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC). For our purposes here, and generally speaking, R&R is a process whereby various governmental bodies with lawmaking authority record their enactments with the NPCSC, which may then review the recorded legislation on certain grounds and order corrective actions if the legislation does not pass muster.[1] R&R has led to some positive developments in Chinese law since our initial introduction. A few months ago, for instance, it led to the NPCSC’s abolition of “custody and education” [收容教育]—a decades-old extrajudicial detention system targeting prostitution.

The biggest update to the R&R scheme since its inception came last December. That month, the Council of Chairpersons approved the Working Measures for the Recording and Review of Regulations and Judicial Interpretations (Measures) [法规、司法解释备案审查工作办法], which were then quietly released in the NPCSC Gazette’s March issue. This is a noteworthy piece of authority: not only does it supplement the two main governing statutes—the Legislation Law [立法法] and the Law on Oversight by the Standing Committees of the People’s Congresses at All Levels (Oversight Law) [各级人民代表大会常务委员会监督法]—by filling in the procedural gaps, but more importantly, it elaborates on the existing grounds for review and also introduces brand-new ones. We thus would like to take this opportunity to reintroduce the NPCSC’s R&R practice, as now undertaken under these new rules. All citations below are to the Measures unless otherwise indicated.

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NPCSC (Early) Session Watch: Copyright, NPC Modernization & National Flag/Emblem (Updated)

UPDATE (July 31, 2020): Today, the Hong Kong Chief Executive officially announced the postponement of the Legislative Council elections to next fall. The central government said in a statement that it would seek a decision by the NPCSC on the one-year vacancy of the Legislative Council after its current term expires on September 30.


We did not wake up today expecting to write this blogpost, yet here we are. On Wednesday, July 29, the Council of Chairpersons decided to convene the 21st session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC)—much to our surprise—from August 8 to 11. For the past three terms, the NPCSC’s regular sessions began only during the last ten days of each month in which it was scheduled to meet (with one exception). And this upcoming session bears all the indications of a regular (August) session: its four-day length, a full batch of bills to review, and the State Council’s mid-year reports on budget implementation and economic development (which are heard in August).

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Legislation Summary: Hong Kong National Security Law

The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) unanimously approved the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region [香港特别行政区维护国家安全法] (Law) on the morning of Tuesday, June 30. That afternoon, the NPCSC separately listed the Law in Annex III to the Hong Kong Basic Law so that it can be enforced in the city. The Law took effect in Hong Kong later that day, at 11 p.m., when it was made public for the first time. The NPCSC previously released (via Xinhua) an excerpted explanation of the Law, which we have summarized here. For now, we will not restate what we already covered in that prior summary, in the interest of time. Instead, here, we will focus on the criminal provisions of the Law (which have heretofore been withheld) and other significant provisions that were not previously disclosed.

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NPC Calendar: July 2020

The following laws take effect on July 1:

The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is soliciting public comments on the draft Veterans Support Law [退役军人保障法] and draft Rural Revitalization Promotion Law [乡村振兴促进法] through July 21, 2020. We also expect it to seek public comments on the following bills early this month:

The NPCSC will meet for its next regularly scheduled session in late August.


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NPC Standing Committee Releases 2020 Legislative Plan

After having kept its 2019 legislative plan a secret, on Saturday, June 20, the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) released its legislative plan for 2020. This plan is divided into four parts. The first part, as usual, lists bills that are scheduled for review this year, while the other three lay down some all-encompassing guiding principles for the NPCSC’s legislative work in 2020. We will discuss only the first part below.

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NPCSC Releases Some Details of Draft Hong Kong National Security Law, But Withholds Information on Criminal Provisions

On Saturday, June 20, the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) disclosed some details of the highly anticipated draft Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region [香港特别行政区维护国家安全法]. It did not release the draft that it reviewed this week. Rather, the state-run Xinhua News Agency published an excerpt from the explanation of the draft; an unofficial translation of part of the excerpt is available here. As of this writing, the NPCSC has not officially solicited public comments on the draft. Below, we will introduce the main contents of the draft Law (as summarized by the explanation), with brief analysis of certain provisions.

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2020 NPC Session: NPC’s Decision on National Security in Hong Kong Explained (Updated)

UPDATE (May 28, 2020): The NPC adopted this Decision on Thursday with 2878 votes in favor, one against, and six abstentions. Its explanation is available here, and an unofficial English translation is available here. We have updated this explainer in accordance with the Decision’s final text. There are two main changes to the draft: (1) the preamble is longer; and (2) and the scope of authorization under article 6 has been extended to “activities” [活动]—in addition to “conduct” [行为]—that endanger national security. Without further evidence, we do not believe the latter change is significant, however.


Readers would probably know by now that the ongoing NPC session’s agenda includes a new draft Decision on Establishing and Improving the Legal Systems and Implementation Mechanisms for Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region [关于建立健全香港特别行政区维护国家安全的法律制度和执行机制的决定]. This new bill was reviewed once by the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) on May 18 and had been kept a secret until Thursday night. We have studied the draft Decision and its accompanying explanation, and now offer the following explainer in Q&A format, focusing on the Decision’s contents and the legal questions it raises. We may add new Q&As in the coming days.

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2020 NPC Session: A Guide to China’s Civil Code (Updated)

UPDATE (July 5, 2020): The NPC adopted the Civil Code on May 28 with 2879 votes in favor, 2 against, and 5 abstentions. We have updated this guide (including all citations and quotations) in accordance with the Code’s final text. We also discussed some of the final substantive changes to the prior draft: additions made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are listed under the heading “COVID-19 Update,” while other new provisions are incorporated into the summary itself and are indicated in red.


As the NPC comes into session today to review a draft of the People’s Republic’s first Civil Code [民法典], a legislative marathon will soon come to an end. The Code is a massive piece of legislation. Its latest draft includes 1260 articles, teeming with arcane legal terminology. Thus, if you want to read it for yourself, you might find the task daunting. In this post, we hope to make the Code just a bit more accessible. But our task here is a moderate one: we will not (and cannot) do a deep dive into the Code. Instead, we will give a brief overview of the Code’s drafting history, explain its significance, and provide a quick introduction to each of the Code’s subdivisions. We will focus on the new rules in the Code that have caught our attention, as well as issues that have engendered the most heated (sometimes quite public) debates.

All citations to the Code below are to its final version; other sources are not always cited. You can find all relevant legislative documents and prior drafts on this page.

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Translation: NPCSC’s New Public Health Legislative Plan in Response to COVID-19

On Wednesday, April 29, the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) released a special legislative plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that is devoted to improving China’s public health legislation. According to an NPCSC spokesperson, the pandemic has exposed the “gaps” in and the “weaknesses” of the current legal scheme. Because to fix those problems many laws need to be enacted or updated, the authorities thought it appropriate to formulate a legislative plan to proceed in a coordinated manner. The spokesperson also said that the legislature would approach different laws in different ways: some would need complete overhauls, while some (like newer ones) would need only “targeted” changes. Finally, as expected, the NPCSC will focus on public health legislation in the near future, and other legislative projects would be deprioritized as a result.

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