NPC Calendar: March 2021 (Updated)

The Criminal Law Amendment (XI) [刑法修正案(十一)] and the Yangtze River Protection Law [长江保护法] take effect on March 1.

The 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) will convene for its fourth annual session on Friday, March 5. The session’s agenda has not yet been finalized, but we expect it to include following items:

  • Deliberate the Government Work Report;
  • Deliberate work reports by the NPC Standing Committee, the Supreme People’s Court, and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate;
  • Review the draft Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through 2035 [国民经济和社会发展第十四个五年规划和2035年远景目标纲要];
  • Review a report on the execution of the 2020 National Economic and Social Development Plan and on the draft 2021 National Economic and Social Development Plan; and review the draft 2021 National Economic and Social Development Plan;
  • Review a report on the execution of the 2020 Central and Local Budgets and on the draft 2021 Central and Local Budgets; and review the draft 2021 Central and Local Budgets;
  • Deliberate a draft amendment to the NPC Organic Law [全国人民代表大会组织法]; and
  • Deliberate a draft amendment to the NPC Rules of Procedure [全国人民代表大会议事规则].

On March 4, the NPC session will convene for a preparatory meeting to select members of the Presidium (an ad hoc body of around 170 members that will preside over the session) and to finalize the session’s agenda. The Presidium will then immediately meet to decide on the session’s daily schedule and designate a spokesperson, among other matters. Shortly thereafter the session is expected to hold its first press conference.

As reported by various media outlets (SCMP; WSJ; NYT; Reuters), the NPC is also expected to review a bill that would overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system. We expect the bill to be first announced at the press conference on March 4.

The NPC’s 2021 session is expected to last seven days, to close on March 11. All reports and bills submitted for review are expected to be approved that day.

Update (Feb. 28, 2021): The NPC Standing Committee is seeking public comments on a draft Stamp Tax Law [印花税法] through March 29, 2021.

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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Demystifying the NPC’s Quasi-Legislative Decisions

As China’s supreme legislature, the NPC and its Standing Committee (NPCSC) make “laws” [法律]—or “statutes,” as we will refer to them below. Statutes in the constitutional sense are legal authorities (1) approved by a majority vote in either legislative body and (2) then promulgated by the P.R.C. President in a presidential order. They are most commonly titled “P.R.C. ××× Law” [中华人民共和国×××法]. Besides statutes, the legislature also routinely passes legal instruments styled as “decisions” [决定] (or occasionally “resolutions” [决议]).[1] Earlier in the spotlight, for instance, was an NPCSC decision that disqualified four pro-democracy Hong Kong legislators. Or the NPC’s May 28, 2020 decision that led to the enactment of the Hong Kong National Security Law. What is the nature of these “decisions”? Are they any different from the statutes? If so, to what extent? As the legislature (the NPCSC, in particular) makes increasing use of decisions, we explore these questions below.

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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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NPC Calendar: February 2021

The Coast Guard Law [海警法] takes effect on February 1.

The 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is expected convene for its 26th session soon after the week-long Spring Festival holiday, which runs from February 11 to 17 this year. The Council of Chairpersons is expected to meet before the holiday to decide on the agenda and dates of the session. The NPCSC will mainly prepare for the 2021 NPC session at its upcoming meeting, but may still review one or two legislative bills. Possible candidates include:

The NPCSC is seeking public comments on the following bills through February 25:

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 Passes Coast Guard Law, Revises Administrative Penalties Law & Animal Epidemic Prevention Law & Establishes Beijing Financial Court

Photo by CFP via CGTN.

The 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded its 25th session on Friday, January 22 and adopted four bills. As usual, we will summarize them below in varying levels of detail. As of this post’s publication, the NPCSC has yet to release all associated legislative records, but when it eventually does, the records will be accessible from the relevant bill pages (linked below).

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Recording & Review Pt. 7: Constitutionally Mandated Mandarin-Medium Education

Photo by Xu Qin (Zuma Press), via WSJ

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.

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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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