To not bury the lede, we start by noting that the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) issued a statement (Xinhua’s English report) today (November 19) criticizing a Hong Kong court’s ruling yesterday that partially invalidated a Hong Kong statute for violating the Hong Kong Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution. The statement suggested that the NPCSC, with the ultimate authority over the interpretation of the Basic Law (see art. 158), might decide to adopt a contrary interpretation. We more fully explain the relevant events and legal arguments below.Continue reading “NPCSC Legislative Affairs Commissions Criticizes Hong Kong Court’s Mask Ban Ruling, Signals Possible NPCSC Intervention”
UPDATE (Nov. 22, 2017): This post has been updated with the explanations of two decisions passed by the 30th Session of the 12th NPCSC. See details below.
The 12th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded its 30th Session last Saturday with the passage of various laws and decisions. This post is a quick rundown of the actions taken by the the NPCSC at the close of the session. Unfortunately, due to other things requiring much of our attention, this time we aren’t able to include the usual level of details as we did before. Apologies. Also, please let us know if any of the links below directs to the wrong webpage—we wrote this blog post in a hurry.
Reports on Tuesday that the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) is considering an amendment to the Criminal Law to prescribe harsher punishment for disrespecting China’s national anthem seem to have taken many by surprise. (They wouldn’t have been if they had been reading our Blog!) Some question the necessity of such a move if the conduct was already criminalized by the National Anthem Law (it was not). Some wonder whether the amendment will be applied to Hong Kong and Macau (it won’t be). Here in this post, we answer a few of such questions on the National Anthem Law, the newest Criminal Law amendment, and their implications for Hong Kong.
The NPC Observer turns one today! Many thanks to our readers, subscribers, and Twitter followers for the amazing past year. By the way, we are now on Facebook—because. . . why not?
UPDATE (Oct. 30, 2017): The finalized agenda and daily schedule of the session are released. One new item—a draft decision to carry out pilots to reform the state supervision system in an additional 28 provinces*—was added to the agenda just a day after the Communist Party announced that it had made such a decision. We will report on the details of the NPCSC decision either tomorrow when the full NPCSC hears an explanation of it or when the NPCSC passes it on November 4.
*The reform will therefore be carried out in 31 of 32 of China’s provincial-level administrative divisions (excluding Hong Kong and Macau).
Buried in the pre-19th Communist Party Congress propaganda frenzy was a bland official report on the Council of Chairmen’s latest meeting on October 16. The Council decided that the 30th—and third last—session of the 12th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) would take place from October 30 to November 4, consistent with our earlier predictions. This post is a (fairly detailed) rundown of the items on the Session’s agenda.
The 12th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded its 29th session last Friday. Regarding legislation, it passed a National Anthem Law and a Nuclear Safety Law, revised the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Promotion Law, and amended eight laws to replace the current national judicial exam with a unified national legal profession qualification exam.
Last month, the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) conducted an initial review of a draft National Anthem Law (Draft) (an English translation of which is attached to this post). Much of the media coverage so far has focused on provisions that ban the use of the national anthem at “inappropriate occasions” such as funerals and provide for up to 15 days of detention for “distorted or derogatory” rendition of the anthem, titled “March of the Volunteers.” With only 15 articles, the Draft contains language that is fairly easy to understand. We therefore won’t spend time scrutinizing its content here. Instead, we will take a look at likely developments surrounding the Draft, based on this report by Xinhua.
Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Basic Law), was passed by the National People’s Congress (NPC) in April 1990 and went into force seven years later on July 1, 1997—the day when China resumed exercise of sovereignty over the city. On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the Basic Law, the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) on May 27 held a high-profile symposium commemorating the occasion, featuring speeches by seven guests, including NPCSC Chairman Zhang Dejiang, who is also in charge of Hong Kong and Macau affairs as a member of the Communist Party’s powerful Politburo Standing Committee. It is not uncommon for the NPCSC to mark the anniversaries of laws it deems important, though yesterday was the first time that it provided transcript of the entire event. The speeches contained many salient points, and below we note the highlights of each in turn.
Update 2: Per a reader’s suggestion, this Blog has located English translations of both the Interpretation itself and the accompanying Explanations. Both were published by Xinhua. In addition, China Law Translate has posted full translations of the new Cybersecurity Law and Film Industry Promotion Law.
The 12th NPCSC has just concluded its 24th Session and passed the Cybersecurity Law, the Film Industry Promotion Law, and amendments to the Marine Environmental Protection Law and to the Private Education Promotion Law. We expect the full texts of these laws to be released later today (Beijing Time).
According to Xinhua, it has also unanimously approved an interpretation of Article 104 of the Hong Kong SAR Basic Law, which will also be released later.
Finally, also according to Xinhua, the NPCSC removed the heads of four State Council ministries: The Ministry of State Security, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Supervision. Interestingly, it apparently appointed only three new ministers; the position of the Minister of Supervision remains vacant. The significance, if any, of the vacancy awaits to be seen.
The NPCSC is now holding a press conference on the bills approved, which you can follow at this link (in Chinese only).
This Blog will cover the press conference and the aforementioned bills in later posts.
Update 2: It has been confirmed that the Chairmen’s Council has put the interpretation which it itself proposed on the agenda of the 24th Session. Article 104 of the Basic Law will be interpreted.
Update 1: On Thursday, no news regarding the rumored Basic Law interpretation came out of the NPCSC, which seemed to have followed its usual schedule. However, it just came to your author’s attention that the agenda for this Session contains an item named “Others (其他)”—an apparent placeholder that hasn’t appeared in the agenda of any other 12th NPCSC session. According to the daily schedule, this mysterious item is set to be heard at the plenary meeting on Saturday morning, along with several other reports. We’ll know what “Others” stand for by Saturday night at the latest.
It seems that the 24th Session has just gotten more exciting. Multiple news reports (SCMP and HKPS) that surfaced late Tuesday night cited sources claiming that the NPCSC would on Thursday consider a proposed interpretation of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Basic Law), in connection with the recent controversial oaths of office taken by two members-elect of Hong Kong’s legislature. If the reports prove to be true, this will then be the NPCSC’s fifth interpretation of the city’s mini-constitution. The following is a primer on this (unconfirmed) interpretation in Q&A format.