Scholarship Highlight: The NPCSC Legislative Affairs Commission and Its “Invisible Legislators”

The Legislative Affairs Commission (LAC; 法制工作委员会) under the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is such a unique institution that one can hardly find an equivalent in another country’s legislature. Consisting mostly of unelected and unidentified members, the LAC works in secrecy, making all decisions behind closed doors. In fact, there is not even a website detailing its functions and organizational structure. The LAC’s employees outnumber NPCSC members, and unlike the latter cohort, they all work full-time and include more legal experts than the staff of any other NPC body (Lu 2013). Their decisions play significant roles throughout the legislative process, from the agenda-setting stage to deliberations—and even after laws are enacted. One Chinese scholar thus aptly dubs the LAC staff “invisible legislators” (隐形立法者) (Lu 2013, p. 74). Some even worry that they may have usurped the powers of elected NPCSC members, thus becoming de facto legislators (Chu 2017).

Here in the third installment of Scholarship Highlight, we provide an overview of the LAC—an essential yet peculiar institution under the NPCSC—and its roles in the legislative process.

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Scholarship Highlight: Haste and Delay in the Chinese Legislative System

Professor Rory Truex of Princeton University has kindly permitted me to publish the abstract of his recent article, Authoritarian Gridlock? Understanding Delay in the Chinese Legislative System, as the second part of this Blog’s Scholarship Highlight series, which surveys academic scholarship relating to the NPC. This article will appear in a future print issue of the Comparative Legal Studies and is now available online at this link (subscription required). [Disclosure: I provided research assistance to Rory on this article.]

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Scholarship Highlight: Law Enforcement Inspections—The NPCSC’s Weapon to Ensure Law-Based Administration?

The agenda of the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) session last month included an inconspicuous item: reviewing the State Council’s response to the report on the law enforcement inspection of the Environmental Protection Law; this report was previously discussed by the NPCSC last November.

What is an law enforcement inspection (执法检查)? Here, taking the opportunity of the first edition of our new, non-regular series, Scholarship Highlight, we present an overview of this supervisory measure of the NPCSC that is sometimes overlooked. We will also take a closer look at a recent example mentioned above: the law enforcement inspection of the Environmental Protection Law last year. Through this post, we wish to explore whether the NPCSC’s law enforcement inspections can act to further “law-based administration” (依法行政) by the State Council.

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