Recording & Review: An Introduction to Constitutional Review with Chinese Characteristics

On October 18, 2017, halfway through his mind-numbing three-hour report to the Communist Party’s 19th National Congress, President Xi Jinping called for “advancing the work of constitutional review” (推进合宪性审查工作). We then noted, and Chinese media later confirmed, that it was the first time such expression appeared in Party documents. While the expression might be novel, the concept of constitutional review is not—it has been an inherent part of “recording and review” (备案审查; “R&R”) since at least 1982. For purposes of our discussion,[1] R&R is a process whereby various governmental entities with lawmaking powers record the legislation they enact with the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC), and the NPCSC then, through several established mechanisms, review such legislation for potential violations of the Constitution and national laws and take appropriate actions. The primary goal is to ensure the uniformity in the hierarchical legal system.

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Following up on the Grant of Legislative Powers to China’s Cities: Pt. 2

Apologies to our readers for the delay in publishing Part 2.

Roughly two years ago, the National People’s Congress (NPC) approved an amendment to the Legislation Law (Amendment), granting the right to enact local regulations to 273 prefecture-level cities and autonomous prefectures (collectively, cities) across China. This post continues Part 1 with analysis of the local regulations enacted by (some of) the 273 cities since the passage of the Amendment. Like Part 1, this post is based on information (current through December 2016) provided by the NPCSC Legislative Affairs Commission (NPCSC LAC).

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Following up on the Grant of Legislative Power to China’s Cities – Pt. 1

On March 15, 2015, the National People’s Congress passed an amendment to the Legislation Law (Amendment), which, among other things, granted legislative powers1 to hundreds of cities2 across China. In the almost two years since, the relevant standing committees of provincial-level people’s congresses (provincial PCSCs) have been busy deciding on when the eligible cities within their jurisdictions may start exercising legislative powers—a procedure mandated by the Amendment. As for those cities, many have taken the first step to experiment their the new powers by enacting local legislations.

Last week, the Constitutionalism of China (中国宪政网) published on its WeChat account two tables provided by the NPCSC Legislative Affairs Commission on the actions taken by the provincial PCSCs and the eligible cities since the Amendment’s passage.

Here, in Part 1 of a two-part series, we’ll present our analysis of the first table, along with additional research done based on those data. The second table will be the topic for Part 2.

We’ll begin this post with some background information and a brief introduction to the relevant part of the Amendment.

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25th Session Watch Pt. 2: NPCSC Reviewing a Draft National Intelligence Law—in Secrecy

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.

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