Legislation Analysis: NPC Standing Committee Approves Overhaul of Hong Kong’s Electoral System

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Just shy of twenty days after the National People’s Congress (NPC) had authorized and outlined a drastic overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system, the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) on Tuesday, March 30 finalized details of the overhaul. The NPCSC unanimously approved revisions to Annexes I and II to the Hong Kong Basic Law, which respectively govern the selection of the Chief Executive and formation of the Legislative Council. The revisions took effect on March 31. Below we will take an in-depth look at the electoral overhaul. More detailed discussion of the previous election rules can be found in our explainer of the NPC’s March 11 decision.

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NPCSC to Revise Hong Kong Basic Law Annexes, Implementing NPC’s Electoral Overhaul Decision

Editor’s Note: The NPCSC unanimously approved revisions to Annexes I and II to the Hong Kong Basic Law on March 30. Our comprehensive explanation and analysis of Hong Kong’s new election rules is available here.

The Council of Chairpersons decided on Monday, March 22 to convene the 27th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) from March 29 to 30. The NPCSC will consider two bills to revise Annexes I and II to the Hong Kong Basic Law, which govern, respectively, the selection of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive and the formation of the city’s Legislative Council. The revisions are undertaken to implement the “basic principles” and “core elements” of the NPC’s March 11 decision to overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system. We have explained the NPC decision’s contents and implications in this post. In short, it introduces mechanisms to ensure candidates for elected offices are “patriots” and to give the pro-establishment camp a decided edge in future elections.

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2021 NPC Session: NPC’s Hong Kong Electoral Overhaul Decision Explained

Editor’s Note: The NPCSC revised Annexes I and II to the Hong Kong Basic Law on March 30. Our explanation and analysis of Hong Kong’s new election rules is available here.

Another year, another NPC decision on Hong Kong. On Thursday, March 11, the National People’s Congress, with 2895 votes in favor and 1 abstention, approved the Decision on Improving the Electoral System of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Decision) [关于完善香港特别行政区选举制度的决定], which takes immediate effect. The Decision comes on the heels of a series of events in the past two years: mass protests against the Hong Kong government’s extradition bill (since withdrawn), opposition lawmakers’ use of filibusters to delay proceedings, and pro-democracy primaries for the now-postponed 2020 Legislative Council election. (Almost fifty activists involved in the primaries have been charged with violating the Hong Kong National Security Law.) The Decision’s explanatory document cites all those events as evidence of the “clear loopholes and deficiencies” in Hong Kong’s current electoral system—which it says have been exploited by “anti-China, destabilizing elements” to attempt to seize the “power to administer [Hong Kong].” It is therefore “important,” the explanation continues, “to take necessary steps to improve the electoral system and remove existing institutional deficiencies and risks to ensure the administration of Hong Kong by Hong Kong people with patriots as the main body.” The Decision marks the first of those steps. Below, we will first provide an overview of the Decision, before discussing in detail the changes it will make to Hong Kong’s electoral system.

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NPCSC Seeks Public Comments on Draft Stamp Tax Law

The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is seeking public comments on a draft Stamp Tax Law [印花税法] through March 29, 2021. The draft is available in PDF here and an explanatory document (in Chinese) here. An English translation will be provided if and when available.

To submit comments online, please refer to this guide. Comments can also be mailed to the NPCSC Legislative Affairs Commission [全国人大常委会法制工作委员会] at the following address:

北京市西城区前门西大街1号 邮编: 100805
No. 1 West Qianmen Avenue, Xicheng District, Beijing 100805

Please clearly write “印花税法草案征求意见” on the envelope.

NPC Launches Official Chinese Law Database: A Guide & Review

The National People’s Congress (NPC) on Wednesday, February 24 formally launched a database of Chinese legal authorities: the National Database of Laws and Regulations [国家法律法规数据库]. The Database has been years in the making. According to the Legal Daily, work on it started in November 2017 and was scheduled to complete by end of 2018. Yet it ended up taking a lot longer—and as we will discuss below, the Database still has had a bumpy start. In this post, we will introduce the types of legal authorities currently available in the Database. We will then discuss its three main functions: browsing, search, and download. And we will end with some concluding thoughts on the Database and look ahead to its future versions. The bottom line: the Database in its current form will not be our go-to platform for looking up Chinese legal documents.

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NPCSC Session Watch: NPC Preparations, Stamp Duty & Mid-Term Report on Civil Litigation Reform Pilots (Updated)

UPDATE (Feb. 26, 2021): Various media outlets have recently reported that the NPC would deliberate a bill to overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system at its upcoming March plenary session. We expect the NPCSC to conduct an initial review of this bill during its meeting on February 26–27, although it is likely that such activity would not be publicly disclosed.


The Council of Chairpersons decided on Tuesday, February 9 convene the 26th 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 one legislative bill and a few reports. We will briefly discuss the bill and highlight one report below.

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NPCSC Seeks Public Comments on Draft Legal Aid Law, Wetlands Protection Law, Family Education Law, Education Law Amendment, Workplace Safety Law Amendment & Two Other Bills

The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is soliciting public comments on the following seven bills through February 25, 2021:

Draft NameChinese TextExplanatory Document
Legal Aid Law (Draft)
法律援助法草案
PDF
(English)
PDF
Military Service Law (Draft Revision)
兵役法修订草案
PDFPDF
Physicians Law (Draft)
(i.e., revision to the Licensed Physicians Law)
医师法草案
PDFPDF
Wetlands Protection Law (Draft)
湿地保护法草案
PDFPDF
Family Education Law (Draft)
家庭教育法草案
PDF
(English)
PDF
Workplace Safety Law (Draft Amendment)
安全生产法修正草案
PDFPDF
Education Law (Draft Amendment)
教育法修正草案
PDFPDF

English translations will be provided if and when available. All explanatory documents are in Chinese.

To submit comments online, please refer to this guide. Comments can also be mailed to the NPCSC Legislative Affairs Commission [全国人大常委会法制工作委员会] at the following address:

北京市西城区前门西大街1号 邮编: 100805
No. 1 West Qianmen Avenue, Xicheng District, Beijing 100805

Please clearly write “<Draft Name in Chinese>征求意见” on the envelope.

NPCSC Session Watch: Public Health, Coast Guard, Legal Aid, Wetlands Protection, Education & Workplace Safety

The Council of Chairpersons decided on Tuesday, January 12 to convene the 25th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) from January 20 to 22. The NPCSC used to hold regular bimonthly sessions in even-numbered months, but it seems to have abandoned that routine, after the Communist Party’s recent Five-Year Plan on Building the Rule of Law in China directed the standing committees of people’s congresses to meet more frequently. Ten legislative bills are on the upcoming NPCSC session’s tentative agenda. A quick rundown follows.

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Communist Party Releases New Set of NPC-Related Reform Goals in First Five-Year Plan on Building Rule of Law in China

On Sunday, January 10, 2021, the Communist Party releases China’s first Plan on Building the Rule of Law in China [法治中国建设规划], for the years 2020 to 2025. According to an unnamed Party official interviewed by Xinhua, the Plan was approved by two top Party institutions: the Central Commission for Overall Law-Based Governance and the Politburo Standing Committee. The Plan is a comprehensive document addressing all aspects of China’s legal reform. Not only does it restate and refine reform objectives laid down since the 18th Party Congress in 2012, it also includes new reform goals. Below, we will focus on four subsections of the Plan that set forth new reform goals relating to the NPC. We will translate the relevant parts of those subsections and supplement with our comments.

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2020 in Review: A Norm-Breaking Year at the NPC

How best to describe 2020? Challenging. Surreal. Exhausting. And for China’s national legislature, norm-breaking. On this last day of the year, we look back, as usual, at the National People’s Congress’s and our work in 2020. To start, we recount those NPC institutional norms that were burned by the dumpster fire that was 2020.

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