2020 NPC Session: A Guide to China’s Civil Code

As the NPC comes into session today to review a draft of the People’s Republic’s first Civil Code [民法典], a legislative marathon will soon come to an end. The Code is a massive piece of legislation. Its latest draft includes 1260 articles, teeming with arcane legal terminology. Thus, if you want to read it for yourself, you might find the task daunting. In this post, we hope to make the Code just a bit more accessible. But our task here is a moderate one: we will not (and cannot) do a deep dive into the Code. Instead, we will give a brief overview of the Code’s drafting history, explain its significance, and provide a quick introduction to each of the Code’s subdivisions. We will focus on the new rules in the Code that have caught our attention, as well as issues that have engendered the most heated (sometimes quite public) debates.

All citations to the Code below are to its latest public draft (released in December 2019); other sources are not always cited. You can find all relevant legislative documents and prior drafts on this page.

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NPC Calendar: May 2020

On May 1, a decision of the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) authorizing the suspension of certain statutory provisions as part of a pilot program in the Hainan Free Trade Zone takes effect.

The 13th NPCSC is expected to convene for its 18th session by mid-May to discuss a draft of its annual work report and other documents to prepare for the NPC’s 2020 annual session. The Council of Chairmen is expected to meet soon after the Labor Day holiday (May 1–5) to decide on the dates and agenda of the session.

The 13th NPC will convene for its third annual session on Friday, May 22. The session’s agenda has not yet been finalized, but we expect it to include the following:

  • Hear and deliberate the Government Work Report;
  • Hear and deliberate work reports by the NPCSC, the Supreme People’s Court, and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate;
  • Review and approve a report on the execution of the 2019 National Economic and Social Development Plan and on the draft 2020 National Economic and Social Development Plan;
  • Approve the 2020 National Economic and Social Development Plan;
  • Review and approve a report on the execution of the 2019 Central and Local Budgets and on the draft 2020 Central and Local Budgets;
  • Approve the 2020 Central Budget; and
  • Deliberate the draft Civil Code [民法典].

We also expect the session to retroactively approve the resignation of Feng Zhonghua [冯忠华] as an NPCSC member in June 2019. He has since been appointed a Vice Governor of Hainan. Under Chinese law, an NPCSC member must resign if he is to serve in an administrative organ.

On May 21, the NPC session will convene for a preparatory meeting to select members of the Presidium (which will preside over the session) and to finalize the session’s agenda. The Presidium will then immediately meet to decide on (among other matters) the session’s daily schedule. Shortly thereafter the session is expected to hold its first press conference.

Though the NPC’s annual session ordinarily lasts around ten days, several outlets have reported that this year’s would be shortened to only seven days. On the last day of the session, we expect the NPC to approve the Civil Code.


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NPCSC Abolishes “Custody & Education” Detention System, Revises Securities Law & Approves Community Corrections Law, Civil Litigation Reform Pilot

The 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded its fifteenth session on Saturday, December 28. It approved a batch of bills, most prominently a decision abolishing China’s decades-old extrajudicial detention system against prostitution. We will focus on this decision below, while briefly noting other bills it approved. Because the NPCSC (quite unusually) has yet to release the relevant legislative records, we had limited primary sources to rely upon when writing this post. We intend to update the discussion below when more sources become available.

Continue reading “NPCSC Abolishes “Custody & Education” Detention System, Revises Securities Law & Approves Community Corrections Law, Civil Litigation Reform Pilot”

NPCSC Solicits Public Comments on Draft Civil Code, Export Control Law, Yangtze River Protection Law, Solid Waste Law Revisions & Two Tax Laws

The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is soliciting public comments on the following six bills through January 26, 2020:

All linked files are PDF documents in Chinese. English translations will be provided if and when available. The accompanying explanations of these drafts can be read here (PDF).

To submit comments online, please refer to this guide. The “Occupations” [职业] dropdown menu for the draft revision to the Yangtze River Protection Law includes the following options: “state organs and their employees” [国家机关及其工作人员], “public institutions, social groups, and their employees” [事业机关、社会团体及其工作人员], “persons living in the Yangtze River basin” [长江流域所在地人员]; and “other” [其他].

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:

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

Please clearly write “[BILL NAME IN CHINESE]征求意见” on the envelope.


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NPCSC Session Watch: Civil Code, Securities Law, Yangtze River Protection, Taiwanese Investments & Export Control (Updated)

UPDATE (Dec. 17, 2019): It appears that a complete Civil Code has indeed been submitted for review at the NPCSC’s upcoming session. Here is an unofficial but authentic draft (PDF).


The Council of Chairpersons decided on Monday, December 16 to convene the 15th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) from December 23 to 28. The NPCSC will review at least 11 legislative bills at its upcoming six-day session. A quick rundown follows.

Continue reading “NPCSC Session Watch: Civil Code, Securities Law, Yangtze River Protection, Taiwanese Investments & Export Control (Updated)”

NPCSC Solicits Public Comments on Civil Code Marriage Part, Draft Community Corrections Law, Draft Revisions to Child Protection Laws & Two Other Bills (Updated)

UPDATE (Nov. 5, 2019): This post has been updated with a link to our guide to navigating the NPCSC’s new online public comments system.

UPDATE (Nov. 4, 2019): This post has been updated with links to unofficial English translations of the draft Community Corrections Law and of the draft revisions to the Minors Protection Law and the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Law.


The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is soliciting public comments on the following six bills through November 29, 2019:

All linked files are PDF documents in Chinese. English translations will be provided if and when available. The accompanying explanations of these drafts can be read here (PDF).

The NPCSC also reviewed a draft Biosecurity Law [生物安全法] at its latest session, but did not also release this bill for public comments. It is unclear whether and when it will do so.

To submit comments online, please refer to this guide. The “Occupations” dropdown menus for the draft revisions to the Minors Protection Law and the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Law include these options: “minors” [未成年人]; “minors’ parents or other guardians” [未成年人的父母或者其他监护人]; “professional social workers” [专业社工]; “teachers” [教师]; “lawyers” [律师]; “employees of villagers’ committees or urban residents’ committees, or community workers” [村委会、居委会或者社区工作人员]; “employees of governmental organs” [政府机关工作人员]; “judges” [法官]; “procurators” [检察官]; and “employees of mass organizations” [群团组织工作人员]. The dropdown menus inexplicably do not include an “other” option.

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:

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

Please clearly write “[BILL NAME IN CHINESE]征求意见” on the envelope.


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NPCSC Session Watch: Encryption, Civil Code, Biosecurity, Child Protection & State Supervision Commission Rulemaking

The Council of Chairpersons decided on Monday (October 14) to convene the 14th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) from October 21 to 26. The NPCSC will consider eight legislative bills plus three draft decisions on important legal issues during the upcoming six-day session. A quick rundown follows.

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NPCSC Seeks Public Comments on Draft Healthcare Law & Civil Code Parts on Personality Rights & Tort Liability

The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is soliciting public comments on the following three bills through September 26, 2019:

All linked files are PDF documents in Chinese. English translations will be provided if and when available. The accompanying explanations of these drafts can be read here (PDF).

The NPCSC also reviewed a draft Law on Governmental Sanctions for Public Employees [公职人员政务处分法] at its latest session, but did not also release this bill for public comments. It is unclear whether and when it will do so.

To submit comments online, please refer to these instructions. 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:

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

Please clearly write “[BILL NAME IN CHINESE]征求意见” on the envelope.


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At First Press Conference, NPCSC Legislative Commission Reports on Public Comments, Addresses Same-Sex Marriage & Hong Kong

The Legislative Affairs Commission [法制工作委员会] of the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC)—a body that provides essential legislative and research support to China’s national legislature—held its first ever press conference today (August 21). The Commission has designated two spokespersons—the directors of its Research Office [研究室] and Legislative Planning Office [立法规划室]—and indicated that it will hold regular press conferences from now on.

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NPCSC Session Watch: Public Health Laws, Civil Code & Supervision Law Companion Statute

The Council of Chairpersons decided on Thursday (August 15) to convene the 12th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) from August 22 to 26. Per the Council’s recommendation, the session will consider seven legislative bills. A quick rundown follows.

Continue reading “NPCSC Session Watch: Public Health Laws, Civil Code & Supervision Law Companion Statute”