Explainer: China to Amend the Constitution for the Fifth Time (UPDATED)

UPDATE (Jan. 25, 2018): This post has been updated to reflect recent developments.


The official Xinhua News Agency reported on December 27 that the Politburo decided to convene the Second Plenum of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party in January 2018. The main agenda of the Plenum is to “discuss and study proposals for amending part of [China’s current] Constitution,” which was adopted in 1982 and later amended four times in 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004. Under Chinese law (and a key CPC policy document), the constitutional amendment process essentially includes three steps. In this post, we will explain each step in turn and point out the key events to watch during the next several months.

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Next Steps for the Supervision Law & Procedural Possibility of a Constitutional Amendment in 2018

Now that the draft Supervision Law has finally become public, many are probably wondering what the next steps for the Law would be. When will the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) consider the draft Law again, if at all? Will the NPCSC release a revised version of the draft for public comments? And, given the argument that the Law shouldn’t be enacted until after the Constitution is amended to grant supervision commissions constitutional status, is it procedurally possible for the NPC to consider (and pass) a constitutional amendment at next year’s session? To predict such developments, we surveyed the legislative history of the laws passed by the NPC since 2000 (when the Legislation Law was enacted) and of all constitutional amendments to the 1982 P.R.C. Constitution.

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A Guide to Supervision System Reform (Redux)

The NPCSC decided last Saturday to extend “pilot” reforms of the state supervision (or anti-corruption) system nationwide. The decision is nearly identical in substance to the NPCSC’s December 2016 decision to first implement supervision system reforms in Beijing, Shanxi, and Zhejiang. The decision on Saturday again prescribes the composition, duties, and powers of the supervision commissions, and lists the legal provisions that will no longer be enforced across China, effectively repealing them. The contents of the Saturday decision are described below, with additional details.

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2017 NPC Session: Press Conference Provides First Look at NPCSC’s Tasks in 2017

The 5th Session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) held its first press conference earlier on Saturday. The spokeswoman for the Session, Fu Ying, who is also Chairwoman of the NPC Foreign Affairs Committee, answered a total of 15 questions from both Chinese and foreign journalists. While her answers on China’s 2017 national defense budget made headlines elsewhere, here we’ll focus instead on what she revealed about the top legislature’s tasks planned for 2017.

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25th Session Watch Pt. 4: More Information on the State Supervision System Reform (UPDATED)

Update (Nov. 6, 2017): This post has been superseded by this one, published on November 5, 2017.

Update (Feb. 13, 2017): This post has been updated to clarify the range of personnel subject to supervision by the supervision commissions.


In the decision to carry out pilots programs of the state supervision system reform, the NPCSC details the composition, duties, and powers of the supervision commissions (see here for our prior discussion of this reform), as well as the legal provisions that will no longer be enforced in the pilot regions. The main content is summarized below, followed by a few comments.

An English translation of the Decision is underway at China Law Translate.

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