The number of agencies under the National People’s Congress (NPC) is about to grow by one. In the Party-state restructuring plan released on March 16, the Communist Party has decided to set up a new Delegates Affairs Commission [代表工作委员会] under the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) to take charge of “delegates work” [代表工作], an often overlooked part of the NPCSC’s duties. “Delegates work,” in sum, refers to a range of activities carried out by the NPCSC, NPC special committees, as well as their members and staff to facilitate (and, to a lesser extent, supervise) ordinary NPC delegates’ discharge of their duties. The last NPCSC (2018–23), led by Chairman Li Zhanshu, markedly elevated the importance of delegates work to the same level as lawmaking and oversight. The new Commission could thus be seen as an epilogue to the previous NPCSC’s reforms and an embodiment of its legacy.Continue reading “NPC to Establish New Agency to Support Delegates”
UPDATE #2 (Mar. 23, 2023): Chinese authorities released the full Party and State Institutional Reform Plan on March 16, and the new State Council announced its organizational structure on March 20. We have accordingly updated our bilingual State Council organizational chart and this guide. Click here to jump to the update.
On Tuesday, March 7, China unveiled details of its 2023 State Council Institutional Reform Plan (Plan) [国务院机构改革方案]. The National People’s Congress (NPC) is set to approve the Plan on March 9, ahead of its votes to appoint a new slate of State Council officials on March 10–11. This would be the ninth round of State Council reorganization since the Reform Era began. Previous rounds took place in 1982, 1988, and every five years thereafter.Continue reading “A Guide to China’s 2023 State Council Restructuring”
On January 28, 2023, the Legislative Affairs Commission (LAC) of the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) released one of the “legal inquiry responses” [法律询问答复] it had issued during the past year. As discussed in depth here, such responses clarify the applicable law in real-world scenarios at the request of central governmental bodies or provincial legislatures. They are not universally binding, but are considered highly persuasive—hence a form of “soft law”—because of the LAC’s pivotal role in lawmaking.
The sole response released on Saturday concerns the division of legislative powers between central and local authorities. In May 2022, an unnamed provincial legislature wrote to the LAC that the minors protection legislation it was reviewing would touch on (1) guardianship of minors, and that it was also mulling legislation on (2) intellectual property protections for porcelain and (3) personal bankruptcy. May it legislate on those matters, it asked, or are they within the national legislature’s exclusive purview?Continue reading “2022 Legal Inquiry Response: Localities Lack Legislative Authority over Personal Bankruptcy—Except Shenzhen?”
Jimmy Lai, the Hong Kong pro-democracy activist and media tycoon, has been indicted on four national security charges and was scheduled to stand trial on Thursday. (The government has asked the court to postpone the trial in light of the development discussed below.) He is being accused of violating Hong Kong’s seditious publications law and of conspiring to “collude with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security” under the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong SAR (NSL) [香港特别行政区维护国家安全法].
Recently, Lai retained Timothy Owen, an experienced British barrister, to lead his defense team. Owen, as one Hong Kong court recognized, is a “renowned specialist in criminal, public and human rights law, with substantial experience in cases concerning national security and freedom of speech.” He has appeared before Hong Kong courts in the past but is not admitted to the Hong Kong bar. Over the Hong Kong government’s objection, the Court of First Instance allowed Owen to represent Lai on an ad hoc basis. After having suffered a streak of losses on appeal, the government on Monday decided to seek help from the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC), which has the ultimate authority to interpret the NSL. Below, we will discuss the legal battle fought in Hong Kong courts, the government’s request for NPCSC intervention, and what to expect next.Continue reading “Explainer: Hong Kong Government’s Request for NPCSC Interpretation of National Security Law in Jimmy Lai Case”
On July 11, 2022, the NPC Standing Committee’s Legislative Affairs Commission (Commission) released two of its “legal inquiry responses” [法律询问答复] issued during the past year. As we have discussed in depth in this post, such responses clarify the applicable law in real-world scenarios at the request of central governmental bodies or provincial legislatures. They are not universally binding, but are considered highly persuasive—hence a form of “soft law”—because of the Commission’s pivotal role in lawmaking. The batch released on Monday is smaller than those released in previous years, but most likely only represents a minuscule portion of all legal inquiry responses the Commission issued in 2021. The two selected responses concern, respectively, the enforcement of a new statutory prohibition on entertainment venues near kindergartens and the extent of a municipal legislature’s authority to promote the private sector of the local economy. We explain them in turn below.Continue reading “2021 Legal Inquiry Responses: Enforcing New Ban on Entertainment Venues Near Kindergartens & Municipal Legislative Authority to Support the Private Sector”
Two months ago, on October 13–14, the Communist Party held the first-ever “Central Conference on Work Related to the People’s Congresses” [中央人大工作会议]. In the lead-up to the Conference and in the months since, the concept of “whole-process people’s democracy” [全过程人民民主] has permeated official discourse and was recently further expounded on in a government white paper titled China: Democracy That Works (the Chinese title, “中国的民主” (China’s Democracy), is blander). That concept requires further study and assessment, and the Conference could prove significant in additional ways, especially for the people’s congress system. We thus translated the readout of the Conference (via Xinhua) below, while we await, hopefully, the release of the full text of Xi Jinping’s speech at the Conference on which the readout is largely based.Continue reading “Translation: Readout of October 2021 Central Conference on Work Related to the People’s Congresses”
On April 1, the NPC Standing Committee’s Legislative Affairs Commission (Commission) made public six of its “responses to legal inquiries” [法律询问答复] from 2020. It last released a batch of such responses from 2018 and 2019 in September 2020, after a thirteen-year hiatus. As we wrote then, these responses to legal inquiries can be considered a form of “soft law”: they answer other governmental bodies’ requests to clarify the applicable law in real-world scenarios and can function like the NPC Standing Committee’s legislative interpretations. The inquiring governmental bodies tend to follow the responses, but they do not bind anyone else. Still, they are considered highly persuasive because of the Commission’s pivotal role in lawmaking. The responses released on Thursday touched on a few different subjects: postponing local legislative sessions due to Covid-19, governance of for-profit private schools, ethnic autonomous regions’ legislative authority, terms of supervision commissions, and rescheduling elections for local people’s congresses. We will summarize and explain these Q&As below.Continue reading “2020 Legal Inquiry Responses: Marriage Age for Ethnic Minorities, Rescheduling Local People’s Congress Elections & More”
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.Continue reading “NPC Launches Official Chinese Law Database: A Guide & Review”
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.Continue reading “Communist Party Releases New Set of NPC-Related Reform Goals in First Five-Year Plan on Building Rule of Law in China”
The NPC Standing Committee’s Legislative Affairs Commission (Commission) is a professional support body that is indispensable to the lawmaking process. We have previously written a profile of the Commission. Among its many functions is the relatively obscure authority to respond to “legal inquiries concerning specific questions” [有关具体问题的法律询问] (Legislation Law [立法法] art. 64). Few of the Commission’s responses to such inquiries have been made public. It has issued thousands of them, but had made public only about 200 by 2007. It had altogether stopped the release since then—until September 2020. Late that month, the Commission quietly posted a new batch of responses to legal inquiries online after a thirteen-year hiatus. Below, we first offer a more in-depth look at the Commission’s legal inquiry responses, before turning to the newly released responses themselves.Continue reading “NPCSC Legislative Affairs Commission Releases New Responses to Legal Inquiries”