Law Explainer: China’s State Medals and State Honorary Titles (UPDATED)

UPDATE (Sept. 17, 2019): On Tuesday, the NPCSC unanimously approved a decision conferring State honors on 42 individuals: 8 “Medal of the Republic” recipients, 6 “Medal of Friendship” recipients, and 28 recipients of various State honorary titles. In a presidential order dated the same day, Xi Jinping formally conferred the honors on their recipients.

Notable recipients of the Medal of the Republic include Tu Youyou, 2015 Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine; and Yuan Longping, known in China as the “Father of Hybrid Rice.” The recipients of State honorary titles include individuals who have made great contributions to science, art, and education, among other fields, as well as those who are recognized as “heroes” or “role models” for their personal feats. Of note, Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong’s first Chief Executive, was given the State honorary title of “Outstanding Contributor to ‘One Country, Two Systems'” [“一国两制”杰出贡献者]. Among the Medal of Friendship recipients are current Cuban leader Raúl Castro and former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

Finally, some stats. Just over a quarter (11) of the recipients are female. Among the 36 Chinese citizen recipients, only 7 are ethnic minorities and all but 3 are members of the Communist Party. Ten recipients have been awarded the honors posthumously.


In line with our earlier prediction, the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) will convene for a one-day special session on September 17, the Council of Chairpersons decided on Tuesday. The sole item on the special session’s agenda is a draft decision to confer State honors and honorary titles, presumably on this list of 36 nominees, to celebrate the 70th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic. Below we briefly overview the history of China’s State honors system and the current legal scheme. We will update this post once the conferral decision is adopted next week.

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NPCSC Revamps Drug Law, Overhauls Rural Land Expropriation Rules & Passes Resource Tax Law

The 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded its twelfth session on Monday with the adoption of three legislative bills: a revised Drug Administration Law [药品管理法], an amendment to the Land Management Law [土地管理法], and a new Resource Tax Law [资源税法]. Below we take a look at each.

Continue reading “NPCSC Revamps Drug Law, Overhauls Rural Land Expropriation Rules & Passes Resource Tax Law”

At First Press Conference, NPCSC Legislative Commission Reports on Public Comments, Addresses Same-Sex Marriage & Hong Kong

The Legislative Affairs Commission [法制工作委员会] of the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC)—a body that provides essential legislative and research support to China’s national legislature—held its first ever press conference today (August 21). The Commission has designated two spokespersons—the directors of its Research Office [研究室] and Legislative Planning Office [立法规划室]—and indicated that it will hold regular press conferences from now on.

Continue reading “At First Press Conference, NPCSC Legislative Commission Reports on Public Comments, Addresses Same-Sex Marriage & Hong Kong”

NPCSC Session Watch: Public Health Laws, Civil Code & Supervision Law Companion Statute

The Council of Chairpersons decided on Thursday (August 15) to convene the 12th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) from August 22 to 26. Per the Council’s recommendation, the session will consider seven legislative bills. A quick rundown follows.

Continue reading “NPCSC Session Watch: Public Health Laws, Civil Code & Supervision Law Companion Statute”

NPC Observer Seeks Research Assistant

The application for the Research Assistant position has closed.

The National People’s Congress Observer is seeking an undergraduate student or a recent college graduate to join our team as a Research Assistant (RA) starting in fall 2019. The RA will work closely with the Blog’s Manager and will participate in all aspects of the Blog’s coverage of China’s national legislature: the National People’s Congress (NPC) and its Standing Committee (NPCSC).

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NPCSC Grants Amnesty to Convicts to Mark 70th P.R.C. Founding Anniversary

The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded its bimonthly session on Saturday (June 29) with the adoption of the Vaccine Administration Law [疫苗管理法] and a decision granting special amnesty to nine classes of convicts who are currently serving their sentences (custodial or otherwise). Below we will focus on the special amnesty decision.

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NPCSC Session Watch: Marriage, Vaccine, Community Corrections, Encryption & Solid Waste (UPDATED)

UPDATE (June 27, 2019): The agenda of this month’s NPCSC session shows that the legislature is reviewing a draft decision that would grant special amnesty [特赦] to some prisoners ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic this October. State media has not reported on the details of the amnesty; we thus do not know which prisoners would be eligible or how many prisoners are estimated to be released. We do expect the decision to pass this Saturday and be released on the same day.


The Council of Chairpersons decided on Monday (June 17) to convene the 11th session of the 13th NPC Standing (NPCSC) from June 25 to 29. Per the Council’s recommendation, the session will consider eight legislative bills. A quick rundown follows.

Continue reading “NPCSC Session Watch: Marriage, Vaccine, Community Corrections, Encryption & Solid Waste (UPDATED)”

Recording & Review Pt. 5: “Freedom and Privacy of Correspondence”

Recording & Review is a series that discusses cases where the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) reviews the legality and/or constitutionality of various types of normative documents, including local regulations and judicial interpretations. Past installments can be found here.


An institute affiliated with China’s top court reported in 2017 that using cellphones while driving was one of the main causes of traffic accidents in China. Between 2012 and mid-2017, says the report, distracted driving caused about 11% of all traffic accidents that led to civil lawsuits, even though such behavior had been outlawed since at least 2004. Enforcement is lacking, however, because distracted driving is relatively hard to detect (even with China’s ubiquitous surveillance cameras).

To combat this problem, several provinces decided to lend the police a hand. They passed what we call “phone-search provisions”: regulations that allow the police to inspect the communication records of motorists involved in accidents. Those records could provide the definitive proof of whether a driver was using cellphone just before an accident, thereby helping the police determine the liability of each party and punish the cellphone use itself.

Granting the police such authority seems like a sensible enough policy. But is it legal?

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NPC Calendar: June 2019

The revised Civil Servants Law [公务员法] takes effect on June 1.

The 13th NPC Standing Committee is expected to convene for its 11th session in late June. The Council of Chairpersons is expected to meet in mid-June to decide on the agenda and dates of the session.

The following legislative bills are likely to return for further review:


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NPCSC Releases Five-Year Plan on State Assets Oversight

On Wednesday, May 22, the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) released its first-ever five-year plan on overseeing the State Council’s management of state assets [贯彻落实《中共中央关于建立国务院向全国人大常委会报告国有资产管理情况制度的意见》五年规划(2018-2022)] (Plan). This Plan implements the Communist Party Central Committee’s December 2017 opinion on establishing a system where the State Council reports to the NPCSC on its management of state assets [关于建立国务院向全国人大常委会报告国有资产管理情况制度的意见] (Opinion). This post summarizes the main contents of these two documents.

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