Session Watch: The 24th Session of the 12th NPCSC

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CLT is delighted to cross-post the first entry from a new blog by our longstanding contributor Changhao Wei. Follow him on the National People's Congress Observer [NPCObserver].

By Changhao Wei

Yesterday (October 18, 2016), the Chairmen’s Council of the 12th NPCSC convened to set the date for the upcoming Standing Committee Session, and proposed a preliminary agenda subject to the approval of the plenary session.

Basic takeaways from the press release:

  1. The 24th Session will meet from October 31 to November 7. Without a detailed daily schedule (which will be released after the Session commences), it’s hard to tell whether the Session will conduct business every day. Based on past practices, however, it’s likely that there will be a one-day break during the Session. (Or not, because this Session faces a particularly heavy workload.)
  2. The Session will deliberate over (at least) ten legislative bills. That is the most legislative bills yet to be considered by a single session three and a half years into the 12th NPC’s term. And the reason there might be more than ten bills is because Xinhua inexplicably inserted the character “等,” meaning “et cetera,” after the list of bills for continued deliberation. This character didn’t appear in past press releases of the Chairmen Council’s meetings of this term, however long the press release was. We’ll know definitively whether there will be additional items once the final agenda is released.
  3. The Session will also consider, among other things, multiple reports. Those that may be of interest to both of this Blog’s readers are the two reports by the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate on promoting and safeguarding the fairness of the justice system, and also the latter’s interim report on the pilot project on the initiation of public interest litigation by procuratorial organs.

What’s on the agenda?

  1. Private Education Promotion Law amendment. This will be the third deliberation over the draft amendment, which was last presented to the NPCSC in December 2015. Barring any significant opposition from NPCSC members, the amendment will most likely be approved at the end of the 8-day session.
  2. Film Industry Promotion Law. This draft law was last considered at the previous regularly scheduled session in August 2016. Submitted for its third deliberation after a mere two-month interval, it will almost certainly be passed by this Session.
  3. Maritime Environmental Protection Law amendment. This amendment was considered for the first time by the August 2016 session. With only nine articles, it certainly is a prime candidate for passage at this Session.
  4. Law on Ensuring Public Cultural Services. This will be the second reading of this draft law, which was first submitted to the April 2016 session. Though it’s not unprecedented for a new law to be passed after only two deliberations, one more deliberation most likely awaits this law.
  5. Red Cross Society Law revision. The draft revision was first considered by the June 2016 session. As a major overhaul of the law, the draft will probably need to complete the usual three-deliberation process, though it wouldn’t be a surprise if the NPC Law Committee recommends that this Session pass it, should a census have been built.
  6. General Provisions of the Civil Law. Like the last item in this list, this draft law was also first submitted to the NPCSC in June 2016. Having managed to schedule it for another deliberation by the end of 2016, the NPCSC will certainly achieve its goal of submitting this law to the NPC plenary session next March for a third and final reading.
  7. Surveying and Mapping Law revision. The draft revision was first passedand submitted to the NPCSC by the State Council on July 27, 2016. Roughly a year earlier, it was released for public comments by the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council.
  8. Amendments to the Foreign Trade Law and other 11 laws. Currently, not much information can be found on these amendments—we don’t even know what the other 11 laws are. Nonetheless, these amendments, as were the “package amendments” submitted by the State Council in the past, will most certainly be related to administrative approval and review (AAR) matters. As evidence supporting this hypothesis, the Foreign Trade Lawwas among two dozen laws listed in a 2012 NPCSC Decision that authorized the State Council to suspend enforcement of certain provisions on AAR procedures of these laws. It’s likely that the State Council has decided that the time is ripe to formally amend these laws. Finally, judging from past practices, absent major objections from NPCSC members, this Session will pass these amendments.
  9. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Promotion Law revision. This item was scheduled for this Session in the NPCSC legislative plan for 2016.
  10. Nuclear Safety Law. This law was listed as a preparatory project in the NPCSC’s 2016 legislative plan, and as a Category II project in the 12thNPCSC Legislative Plan. It’s therefore a pleasant surprise that the NPC Environmental Protection and Resources Conservation Committee has already completed a submission-ready draft. (To put things in perspective, this law is the only the third of the 26 Category II projects in the 12th NPCSC Legislative Plan that have been submitted for deliberation.)

What’s NOT on the agenda?

Missing from the agenda is the proposed Community Correction Law, which was originally scheduled for this Session by the 2016 legislative plan. No media report has hinted at the State Council’s progress on drafting this law. Therefore, it’s unclear if the State Council would need just a little bit more time to finalize the draft or if the work on this law has stalled.

This post will be updated once more information becomes available.

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