NPCSC Clarifies “Allegiance” Requirements for Hong Kong Legislators, Disqualifies Pro-Democracy Legislators

The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) adopted on Wednesday, November 11 a decision on the qualifications for members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council (LegCo), resulting in the immediate disqualification of four pro-democracy legislators: Alvin Yeung, Kwok Ka-ki, Dennis Kwok, Kenneth Leung. These four incumbents have been banned from running in next year’s elections for the 7th LegCo, but until today have been allowed to stay on after the NPCSC extended the 6th LegCo’s term for a year.

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2020 NPC Session: NPC’s Decision on National Security in Hong Kong Explained (Updated)

UPDATE (May 28, 2020): The NPC adopted this Decision on Thursday with 2878 votes in favor, one against, and six abstentions. Its explanation is available here, and an unofficial English translation is available here. We have updated this explainer in accordance with the Decision’s final text. There are two main changes to the draft: (1) the preamble is longer; and (2) and the scope of authorization under article 6 has been extended to “activities” [活动]—in addition to “conduct” [行为]—that endanger national security. Without further evidence, we do not believe the latter change is significant, however.


Readers would probably know by now that the ongoing NPC session’s agenda includes a new draft Decision on Establishing and Improving the Legal Systems and Implementation Mechanisms for Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region [关于建立健全香港特别行政区维护国家安全的法律制度和执行机制的决定]. This new bill was reviewed once by the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) on May 18 and had been kept a secret until Thursday night. We have studied the draft Decision and its accompanying explanation, and now offer the following explainer in Q&A format, focusing on the Decision’s contents and the legal questions it raises. We may add new Q&As in the coming days.

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Hong Kong Appeals Court Affirmed Judiciary’s Power to Invalidate Unconstitutional Pre-Handover Laws Despite Contrary NPCSC Decision

On Thursday, April 9, the Hong Kong Court of Appeal (Court or COA) affirmed in part and reversed in part a lower court ruling from last November that partially invalidated the city’s “mask ban”: a prohibition on wearing facial covering that prevents identification in certain public gatherings. In sum, the Court upheld the colonial-era emergency law serving as the legal basis for the ban and allowed the government to enforce the ban in unauthorized public gatherings. Below we will focus on a section of the COA’s opinion that held that Hong Kong courts may strike down laws enacted before Hong Kong’s 1997 handover to China that are later found to violate the Hong Kong Basic Law, notwithstanding a prior determination by the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) to the contrary.

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NPCSC Legislative Affairs Commissions Criticizes Hong Kong Court’s Mask Ban Ruling, Signals Possible NPCSC Intervention

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.

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NPCSC Criminalized National Anthem Disrespect, Applied National Anthem Law to SARs & Authorized Nationwide Supervision System and Armed Police Reforms

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.

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Explainer: National Anthem Law, New Criminal Law Amendment, and Their Implications for Hong Kong

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.

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NPCSC to Consider New Criminal Law Amendment, Apply National Anthem Law to SARs & Hear Judicial Reform Reports

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 Facebookbecause. . . 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.

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29th Session Watch Pt. 2: NPCSC Passes New Laws, Institutes New National Legal Profession Qualification Exam

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.

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Likely Developments Surrounding the Draft National Anthem Law (with Translation)

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.

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NPCSC Holds High-Profile Symposium Commemorating 20th Anniversary of Hong Kong Basic Law

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.

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