Recording & Review is a series that focuses on the NPC Standing Committee’s eponymous oversight process, whereby its Legislative Affairs Commission reviews the validity of various types of normative documents, including local regulations and judicial interpretations. A comprehensive introduction to “recording and review” can be found here, and past installments of this series here.
On Wednesday, January 20, the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) heard its Legislative Affairs Commission’s annual report on its efforts in 2020 to record and review the validity of various types of sub-statutory documents, including local regulations and judicial interpretations. In sum, a document will fail review if the Commission deems it (1) unconstitutional; (2) contrary to the Communist Party’s major policies; (3) unlawful; or (4) otherwise “clearly inappropriate.” The Commission will then ask the document’s enacting body to amend or repeal it. This year’s report is particularly notable in that it devotes a full section to discussing how the Commission “proactively and prudently” dealt with constitutional issues in the recording-and-review process. This section mentions three cases, and below, we will focus on one of them, which concerns the language of instruction used by China’s ethnic schools.
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 Chinadirected 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.
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.
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.
Given recent reports that the NPCSC was contemplating Hong Kong-related actions and the fact that it did not hear several routine year-end reports at its recent December session, there is a possibility that the NPCSC would meet for a special session this month.
The NPCSC will convene for its next regularly scheduled session in late February.
English translations will be provided if and when available. All explanatory documents are in Chinese. The NPCSC also reviewed a second draft of the Coast Guard Law [海警法], a draft Supervisors Law [监察官法], and a draft revision to the Military Service Law [兵役法] at last week’s session, but did not also release them for public comments today.
The 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded its 24th session on Saturday, December 26, 2020 and adopted six bills. Below, we will summarize them in varying levels of detail. Contrary to previous Hong Kong media reports, the NPCSC did not take any Hong Kong-related action at its session last week.
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 (now a bit outdated). 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,1 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.
UPDATE (Dec. 21, 2020): According to an NPCSC spokesperson, the NPCSC will continue deliberating the draft revision to the Rural Revitalization Promotion Law and the draft Coast Guard law in 2021. These two bills thus will not pass at this NPCSC session.
On Friday, November 27, the Council of Chairpersons took the unusual step of announcing the next NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) session almost a month in advance. It decided that the 13th NPCSC will convene for its 24th session from December 22 and 26 and tentatively placed a whopping 18 legislative bills on the agenda, including 16 draft laws and 2 draft decisions. There is a little something for everyone: the bills touch on issues ranging from criminal justice to military affairs, from trade and intellectual property to maritime issues. A quick preview of the session follows.