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, 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.
The NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) released its 2017 oversight plan (Plan) in early May, and this post presents an overdue analysis of it. Here, we will not list each and every project in the Plan (unlike our previous analysis of the NPCSC’s 2017 legislative plan), but will instead offer a few observations about the Plan. A partial translation of the Plan, including more detailed descriptions of the projects, can be found at the end of this post.