China currently collects 18 types of taxes. They will generate an estimated total of 8 trillion RMB in revenue for the Central Government in 2018. But only six of them—providing only about a third of the central tax revenue—are imposed by laws (法律) enacted by the legislature, the NPC or its Standing Committee (NPCSC). The rest are governed only by interim regulations (暂行条例) adopted by the State Council—the Central Government itself. The enormous taxing power the State Council now wields was in fact granted by the NPC in 1984. Now, over three decades later, the NPC is reclaiming that power by gradually elevating the interim regulations into laws, with an eye to complete the process by 2020. In this post, we will explain why the NPC made the power grant in the first place and discuss what it has recently been doing to reassert its control over taxation.
As was revealed late last Monday, the tentative agenda of the current NPCSC session (which we discussed in the last post) had undergone several changes. The most notable was a new draft law named National Intelligence Law. The press release of the first meeting of the 25th Session contained the following short paragraph on this draft law:
In order to strengthen and safeguard national intelligence efforts, and to defend national security and interests, the State Council submitted a draft National Intelligence Law for deliberation. Entrusted by the State Council, CHEN Wenqing, the Minister of State Security, made an explanation.
What was unusual, however, was the complete lack of media coverage of this law in the four days since. State media did not report on the content of the law, nor on the NPCSC members’ discussion of the law yesterday. While national security legislations are “sensitive” in nature, and their media coverage is normally tightly controlled, the absence of any report is still a deviation from the usual course of action.
The 12th NPCSC will convene for its next session, which will be the last one in 2016, from December 19 to 25, the Council of Chairmen decided on Monday. The Council also proposed a preliminary agenda for the 25th Session, which features six legislative bills, three authorizations of reforms, and several items pertaining to next year’s NPC plenary session and the upcoming 13th NPC. As usual, in the first part of this installment of Session Watch, we’ll take a look at the agenda of the upcoming session.