REPORT ON THE WORK OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL PEOPLE’S CONGRESS
Delivered at the Fourth Session of the 13th National People’s Congress on March 8, 2021
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress
On behalf of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), I now present this report on its work for your deliberation.
Let me begin with a review of our major initiatives since the Third Session of the 13th National People’s Congress.
The year 2020 was an extraordinary year in the history of the People’s Republic of China. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core responded confidently to risks and challenges of a kind the world has rarely seen and coordinated efforts to advance the five-sphere integrated plan and the four-pronged comprehensive strategy. Through our endeavors to foster opportunities amid crises and open up new vistas in a shifting landscape, we have achieved major strategic successes in our response to Covid-19, secured historic achievements in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and attained a complete victory in the battle against poverty. By enabling the Chinese nation to make another giant stride toward rejuvenation, the Central Committee has delivered impressive results that our people are happy with which will go down in history. This new and substantial progress that has been made in the cause of the Party and the country will certainly spur us forward with greater confidence and resolve on our journey to build a modern socialist country in all respects.
Confronted with a complicated international landscape and the challenging tasks of pursuing reform and development and ensuring stability at home, the NPC Standing Committee, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, continued to follow the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, thoroughly implemented Xi Jinping’s thinking on the rule of law, and fulfilled its duties and responsibilities. The Standing Committee took active steps to provide legal support for advancing major work plans, addressing major risks and challenges, and protecting national security, and effectively played its role as an organ of state power.
Over the course of the 10 months since the Third Session of the 13th NPC, the Standing Committee has earnestly exercised its powers of enacting laws, conducting oversight, making decisions, and appointing and removing officials. In total, we have formulated 9 laws, revised 13 existing laws, made 8 decisions on legal issues and major issues, and are currently deliberating 23 draft laws. We heard and deliberated 35 reports, inspected the implementation of 1 decision and 6 laws, conducted 2 special inquiries and 6 research projects, and passed 1 resolution. We decided to ratify or enter into 7 treaties with foreign countries. We reviewed and passed 39 bills covering a total of 259 appointments or removals of state department employees.
The most prominent feature of the Standing Committee’s work is our focus on the major CPC Central Committee decisions and plans, on the people’s expectations for the rule of law in their pursuit of a better life, and on the legal requisites for modernizing China’s system and capacity for governance, in an effort to strengthen legislation and legal oversight to ensure that all aspects of our work concentrate more on the central task of economic development and overall national interests and better serve our country and people.
For example, we strengthened the legal framework for wildlife protection. We issued a prompt decision to completely ban the illegal trade and consumption of wild animals, and followed it with inspections on the implementation of this decision and the Wildlife Protection Law, before making revisions to the Wildlife Protection Law.
We worked to establish stronger legal safeguards for public health. We developed a work plan for enacting new laws and revising existing ones in a timely manner, and formed task forces to advance the enactment or revision of 30 pieces of legislation in batches.
We took resolute steps to maintain order as defined in China’s Constitution in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Responding to the needs for legislation which have arisen from the developments in the Hong Kong situation, we were swift to enact the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR. We heard and deliberated the State Council’s report on revising and improving the electoral system of Hong Kong along with relevant suggestions, and formulated a draft decision on improving Hong Kong’s electoral system which has been submitted to this session for your deliberation.
In our efforts to contribute to the battle against poverty, we sped up legislation related to agriculture, rural areas, and rural residents, and both heard and deliberated reports and carried out research projects on poverty reduction.
We were unrelenting in our efforts to step up the battle against pollution. For the last three years, we have carried out inspections to enforce the most important pollution control laws, namely the Law on the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution, the Law on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution, and the Law on the Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution. We conducted follow-up compliance inspections of the Law on the Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution only a year and a half after it came into force, thus effectively boosting the control of soil pollution.
We used the force of law to push for an improved business environment. We inspected compliance with the Law against Unfair Competition, and put on record and reviewed normative documents for creating a better business environment. We will revise the Anti-Monopoly Law this year.
To provide legal support for a new round of higher-standard opening up to the outside world, we deliberated the draft of a Hainan free trade port law, enacted the Export Control Law in a timely fashion, and revised the Patent Law.
We worked hard to address social governance issues of public concern by formulating the Community Correction Law, passing Amendment XI to the Criminal Law, and revising the Law on the Protection of Minors and the Law on Preventing Juvenile Delinquency as well as other laws.
Through these efforts, we have met the latest requirements set by the CPC Central Committee for the NPC, responded to the new expectations of the people, and provided legal support and safeguards for comprehensively advancing the rule of law in the new era.
First, we strengthened the implementation of the Constitution and oversight of constitutional compliance to safeguard the integrity of the rule of law.
Ensuring the full implementation of the Constitution is the most important task as well as the base for comprehensively advancing law-based governance and developing China into a socialist nation under the rule of law. The Standing Committee earnestly performed its legally prescribed duty of ensuring the implementation of the Constitution and strengthening oversight of constitutional compliance, thus safeguarding the sanctity and authority of the Constitution.
We improved laws relating to the Constitution.
We revised the National Flag Law and the National Emblem Law to help better protect our country’s reputation and foster the spirit of patriotism, so that protecting the dignity of the national flag and national emblem becomes a conscious act for all citizens.
We revised the Electoral Law and increased as appropriate the number of deputies to people’s congresses at the county and township levels, so as to consolidate the foundation for the people’s congress system.
To meet the targets set for national supervision system reform, we formulated the Law on Administrative Action for Public Employees and deliberated the draft supervisors law.
We revised the NPC Organic Law and the NPC Rules of Procedure for the first time since their promulgation more than 30 years ago, and submitted the draft revisions to this session for your deliberation. When drafting the revisions, we fully implemented the political principle of upholding the leadership of the Party, drew on new experiences and achievements in practicing the people’s congress system, and refined the functions and working procedures of the Presidium of the NPC session and Chairperson’s Council, with a focus on the NPC’s organizational system, working mechanisms, and operating models. These revisions fully reflect the new changes in the NPC’s composition and functions following the 2018 reform of Party and state institutions. We are confident that the joint effort of all deputies will ensure the successful revision of these two laws before they become the procedural laws under which the NPC and its Standing Committee perform their duties efficiently and in accordance with the law, as well as the laws which guarantee the unity of Party leadership, the running of the country by the people, and law-based governance.
We worked to ensure constitutional order and the rule of law in the HKSAR.
The disturbances that occurred in Hong Kong in 2019 over the proposed revisions to the extradition bill had a severe impact on the rule of law and public order. They also presented a serious challenge to the policy of One Country, Two Systems. After the decision on establishing a sound legal system and implementation mechanism for the HKSAR to safeguard national security was adopted at the Third Session of the 13th NPC, the Standing Committee acted swiftly in holding two consecutive meetings in June last year, at which the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR was deliberated and adopted. A decision was made to add this law to the list of laws in Annex III to the Basic Law of the HKSAR, which shall be applied locally after promulgation by the region. This has filled a long-existing legislative vacuum with regard to national security in Hong Kong.
The adoption of a decision for the sixth Hong Kong Legislative Council to continue to discharge its duties in August 2020, was followed by the Standing Committee’s November decision on issues relating to the qualifications for members of Hong Kong Legislative Council. Another decision will be adopted at this session regarding the improvement to the electoral system of the HKSAR, and to make this package of legal measures more complete, the Standing Committee will make revisions to the relevant law on the basis of that decision.
The NPC will stand firm in safeguarding China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests in accordance with the law. We will continue to perform our legally mandated duties and provide legal safeguards for ensuring constitutional order in Hong Kong, countering forces seeking “Hong Kong independence,” ensuring that it is those who love our country that administer Hong Kong, and maintaining long-term prosperity and stability in the region.
We promoted the spirit of the Constitution.
According to the decision and plan of the CPC Central Committee and the provisions of the Constitution, the Standing Committee made a decision, which was followed by President Xi Jinping’s signing of a presidential order, to award Zhong Nanshan the Medal of the Republic, and award Zhang Boli, Zhang Dingyu, and Chen Wei the national honorary title of People’s Hero in order to commend their noble character and outstanding achievements.
We organized six ceremonies for 23 officials to publicly pledge allegiance to the Constitution as they took office in order to guide public servants to raise their awareness of the Constitution, uphold its principles, and fulfill the missions entrusted to them therein.
We organized activities and held a symposium for the seventh National Constitution Day in an effort to foster a positive environment for honoring, studying, observing, upholding, and applying the Constitution throughout society.
We conducted constitutionality reviews and put on record and reviewed normative documents.
We responded to Constitution-related concerns and worked to ensure all laws, regulations, and policies comply with the Constitution both in letter and in spirit. In 2020, we received a total of 1,310 pieces of legislation submitted for recordkeeping and examined them one by one. These included administrative regulations, local statutes, autonomous regulations and locally-specific regulations, regulations for special economic zones, judicial interpretations, and laws of special administrative regions.
We reviewed normative documents and carried out focused overhauls covering epidemic containment, wildlife protection, implementation of the Civil Code, food and drug safety, and the business environment. We identified 3,372 normative documents in need of revision or repeal, and urged the relevant parties to make prompt corrections.
We successfully carried out reviews upon request and reviews on handover items. Last year, we received a total of 5,146 suggestions for review from citizens and organizations. One by one we examined the 3,378 suggestions which fell within the scope of our review and gave opinions on how to deal with them, and we transferred all other suggestions to relevant agencies. We received 58 local statutes handed over to us for review from relevant departments, of which 27 were forwarded to formulating bodies for revision or abolition.
We worked to encourage local people’s congresses to set up a system for hearing reports on the work of putting on record and reviewing normative documents. We improved the institutions and capacity building for reviewing these documents, and officially launched the national database of laws and regulations to provide foundational support for legislative activities and for recording and review of normative documents.
Second, centering on the overall work of the Party and the country, we strengthened legislation in key areas to meet the expectations of our people.
In this new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics, in response to the profound and complex changes in the international landscape and the rapid development of the cause of the Party and the country, our legislative work moved into a new stage of accelerated development, marked by a large volume of expedited and higher-standard legislation that covers a wide range of areas.
We strengthened the enactment and revision of public health laws.
Responding to the sudden outbreak of Covid-19 and targeting the legal weaknesses exposed in our fight against the epidemic, we focused on developing a better coordinated and interconnected legal system and sped up the enactment and revision of laws to strengthen the rule of law with regard to public health. Up to now we have completed the revision of the Law on Animal Epidemic Prevention along with five other pieces of legislation. By the end of this year, we will have completed a further 11 objectives including revising the Wildlife Protection Law, the Practicing Physicians Law, and the Law on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases.
By improving relevant laws, raising legal awareness, and promoting greater compliance, we worked to ensure that the release of information on Covid-19, the allocation of emergency supplies, the handling of social issues and disputes, and the maintenance of order in the market were all carried out in accordance with the law, thus using the force of law to protect the health and safety of our people.
We accelerated legislation on national security.
With the world currently undergoing changes of a magnitude not seen in a century, safeguarding national security has never been more urgent. The Standing Committee adopted a holistic approach to national security and accelerated national security legislation in key areas. We formulated the Biosecurity Law and the Export Control Law, revised the Archives Law, and deliberated draft revisions of the Maritime Traffic Safety Law, the draft of a data security law, and the draft of a personal information protection law. As these laws cover economic security, resource security, nuclear security, ecological security, information security, and the protection of overseas interests, they are of critical importance for our country in tackling risks and challenges, and they address major issues of great concern to the public.
In order to implement Xi Jinping’s thinking on strengthening the military, and respond to the needs of national defense and military development in the new era, we revised the National Defense Law and the Law on the People’s Armed Police Force, formulated the Coast Guard Law and the Veterans Support Law, and deliberated the draft of a law on the protection of the status, rights, and interests of military personnel, along with the draft revisions of the Military Service Law and the Military Facilities Protection Law. This work has provided legal safeguards for both the territorial and military security of our country and the safety of our people.
We carried out legislative work to promote high-quality development and high-standard opening up.
We formulated the Law on Urban Maintenance and Development Tax and the Deed Transfer Tax Law, revised the Patent Law and the Copyright Law, and deliberated the drafts of a rural revitalization promotion law, a stamp duty law, and a Hainan free trade port law. We made decisions on establishing an intellectual property rights court in the Hainan free trade port and a financial court in Beijing. This legislation, covering as it does fiscal and financial affairs, intellectual property protection, agricultural and rural development, and opening up, is designed to provide legal safeguards for promoting a change in the quality, efficiency, and drivers of economic development.
Establishing the Hainan pilot free trade zone and free trade port is a strategic move taken by the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, to push for high-standard opening up in the new era. By formulating a free trade port law which embodies Chinese characteristics, complies with international practice, and responds to the call of the times, we aim to establish a legal framework for this new platform, which will promote high-standard opening up by creating a better business environment and strengthening its leading role as a free trade port.
We intensified legislation with regard to social development and governance.
We passed Amendment XI to the Criminal Law, revised the Law on the Protection of Minors, the Law on Preventing Juvenile Delinquency, and the Administrative Penalty Law, and deliberated the drafts of an anti-food waste law, an anti-organized crime law, a legal aid law, and a family education law, along with the draft revisions to the Education Law. In step with developments at home and abroad, these achievements conform to our people’s aspiration for a better life, and provide legal support for a dynamic and orderly social environment.
For example, Criminal Law Amendment XI is a revision to the Criminal Law that has drawn the greatest public attention in recent years. The amendment makes additions or revisions to 47 articles, and covers workplace safety, food and drugs, order in the financial sector, the business environment, public health, biosafety and biosecurity, environmental protection, and other areas. It is a direct response to the new developments and issues of great public concern, such as education- and employment-related identity theft, assaults on bus drivers, throwing objects from a height, illegal fund raising, and the age of criminal responsibility.
The draft anti-food waste law carries forward traditional Chinese virtues and calls for socially conscious, healthy, rational, and eco-friendly modes of consumer spending.
With the focus on specific areas and special issues, we conducted legislative work in a more targeted and precise manner. This has developed a new legislative approach and pathway, and shows that our legislative work is becoming more specialized and issue-specific.
We continued to improve ecological and environmental protection laws.
Aiming to put into practice Xi Jinping’s thinking on promoting ecological progress, we continued to champion integrated innovation in our ecological and environmental protection laws. The current NPC Standing Committee has formulated or revised 12 laws such as the Yangtze River Protection Law, the Law on the Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution, and the Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Waste, adopted one resolution, and is currently deliberating the draft wetlands protection law. We put in place the strictest systems and the most rigorous legislation in order to draw an ecological red line to protect our clear waters and green mountains.
The Yangtze River Protection Law was passed in December 2020. As the first specialized law covering the whole river basin, this law fully reflects our commitment to well-coordinated environmental protection and over- development prevention. A full year was spent drafting the law, with three deliberations taking place the following year. The Standing Committee also convened a symposium on its implementation in a timely fashion. All of these steps are designed to advance the protection of this vitally important waterway in accordance with the law for the benefit of our people and future generations, so that the Yangtze Economic Belt becomes a key model for prioritizing ecological conservation and boosting green development, a major channel for facilitating domestic and international economic circulation, and a major force for catalyzing high-quality development.
We worked effectively to implement the Civil Code.
The Civil Code is the first piece of legislation to carry the title of code that has been enacted since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The Code is a fundamental law in the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics that serves to build the legal foundation, stabilize expectations, and yield long-term benefits. The Standing Committee made effective preparations for its implementation and pushed for revisions and improvements to supporting laws, regulations, and judicial interpretations. We thoroughly explained the new regulations, concepts, and principles in the Civil Code, and led the way in publicizing, promoting, and ensuring its implementation, so that this law is thoroughly observed throughout society and well received by the people.
Third, we conducted oversight of legal compliance and work performance in accordance with the law, thus providing support through oversight.
At all times, we worked to ensure that our legally prescribed duties were carried out within the statutory limits of authority and through the procedures as defined in law. By exercising appropriate and effective oversight, we advanced full and effective implementation of the Constitution and the law, and ensured law-based exercise of administrative, supervisory, adjudicatory, and procuratorial powers.
We strengthened the examination and oversight of the plans, budgets, and final accounts of the government.
Focusing on the targets and tasks for national economic and social development approved at the Third Session of the 13th NPC, we placed ensuring stability on six fronts and maintaining security in six areas at the top of our agenda.1 We heard and deliberated a report on the implementation of the plan for national economic and social development, held regular meetings to analyze the state of the economy, and conducted ongoing oversight of economic developments to ensure the full implementation of the Party Central Committee’s major decisions and plans, as well as the 2020 plan for national economic and social development adopted by the Third Session.
To comply with the requirement for pursuing a more proactive and impactful fiscal policy, we heard and deliberated the State Council’s reports on its final accounts, on the execution of budgets, and on auditing work, and examined and approved the central government’s final accounts for 2019. We heard and deliberated the report on the rectification of problems discovered through auditing and conducted special inquiries. We carried out oversight over the rectification process to see that relevant problems were effectively remedied.
We carried out research projects on preferential tax and fee policies and on tax and fee reduction policies for epidemic control, so as to provide legal support to meet local governments’ funding requirements as they carried out epidemic control work.
We further advanced the reform for expanding the focus of budget examination and oversight.
We formulated guidelines for strengthening local people’s congresses’ examination and oversight of local government debt, and pushed for the meticulous and effective implementation of reform measures for expanded budget examination and oversight.
We carried out exhaustive budget examination and exercised budget oversight at all stages, intensifying ex ante oversight, concentrating on interim oversight, and carrying out ex post oversight effectively.
We stepped up oversight to see how effectively policies are implemented and how efficiently funds are used. We established mechanisms for hearing reports on performance-based evaluations of government budgets and for releasing information on the performance of important policies and key funds from relevant departments. We encouraged the establishment of a system for linking performance-based evaluation results to policy improvements and budget allocations.
Combining online monitoring with offline research and analysis, we pressed ahead with phase two of the development of the online budget oversight system with a view to helping NPC deputies to perform their budget examination and oversight duties.
We fulfilled our duty of overseeing the management of state-owned assets.
We adopted the decision on enhancing oversight of state-owned asset management. We carried out our duties effectively, and worked to ensure that our oversight became more targeted, procedure-based, and practical, so as to provide legal safeguards for more effective oversight of state-owned asset management.
We heard and deliberated a comprehensive report on the management of state-owned assets for 2019, along with a special report on the management of state-owned assets held by enterprises for the same year. We launched research initiatives to oversee the management of state-owned assets held by enterprises (excluding financial enterprises), and encouraged the State Council to further reform the state-owned asset oversight system with the focus on capital management, to advance the mixed ownership reform of state-owned enterprises, and to improve the distribution of state capital.
We carried out research dedicated to refining the state-owned asset governance system and advanced online oversight of state-owned assets. Over a period of three years, we essentially achieved our goal of setting up a system for reporting on state-owned asset management at the provincial, city (with subsidiary districts), and county levels.
We heard and deliberated work reports on specific issues.
Focusing on the targets and tasks for building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and paying particular attention to the priorities and challenges of economic performance, we heard and deliberated the State Council’s reports on scientific and technological innovation, on the reform to introduce a registration-based IPO system, on poverty alleviation, and on the allocation and use of government funds for agriculture and rural areas.
For the first time, we heard and deliberated a National Commission of Supervision report on tracking down corrupt officials hiding abroad and the recovery of stolen state assets. Our work in this area has not only demonstrated the achievements of reforms to the national supervision system and the improvement in our national governance capacity, but also marked a new step forward in the NPC’s exercise of oversight of the State Council, the National Commission of Supervision, the Supreme People’s Court, and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.
We strengthened oversight of law enforcement and judicial work.
We heard and deliberated the State Council’s report on the efforts of public security organs to standardize law enforcement, in a bid to assist these organs in enforcing the law with a stricter, fairer, more measured, and more procedure-based approach.
In response to the new characteristics of civil cases and new crimes, we heard and deliberated a report from the Supreme People’s Court on strengthening the adjudication of civil cases to support sustained and healthy economic and social development in accordance with the law, along with the Supreme People’s Court’s mid-term report on pilot reforms for streamlining civil litigation procedures. We also heard and deliberated the report from the Supreme People’s Procuratorate on applying the system of sentence bargaining in criminal cases. As a result of these efforts, we were able to enhance civil trial quality and efficiency and improving the work performance in the handling of criminal cases, achieved both judicial impartiality and greater efficiency, and coordinated political, legal, and social implications in the handling of cases.
We continued to intensify law enforcement inspections.
In order to coordinate the Covid-19 response with economic and social development, and to meet the demands and expectations of our deputies and the general public, the Standing Committee inspected the implementation of its decision to completely ban the illegal trade and consumption of wild animals, the Wildlife Protection Law, the Law on the Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution, the Law on Promoting Agricultural Mechanization, the Charity Law, the Law on the Provision of Public Cultural Services, and the Law against Unfair Competition. We also heard and deliberated a report from the State Council on its handling of the Standing Committee report on the inspections of the implementation of the decision to completely ban the illegal trade and consumption of wild animals and the Wildlife Protection Law and on the recommendations of its deliberations. We launched public awareness raising campaigns for the relevant laws to ensure the fulfillment of legal responsibilities in line with specific legal stipulations.
Placing the focus on the campaigns to keep our skies blue, our waters clear, and our land pollution-free, we inspected the implementation of the Law on the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution, the Law on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution, and the Law on the Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution in 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively. We carried out field inspections in 78 prefecture-level cities in 22 provinces, held 74 seminars, and conducted unannounced investigations in 170 organizations and projects. Subsequently, a total of 82 problems in 20 categories were identified, and the names of the 143 organizations in which problems were discovered were made public. We continued to conduct law enforcement inspections with regard to environmental protection with the aim of using the force of the law to assist in winning the battle against pollution. Crucially, through these inspections we increased the sense of ecological civilization among the people, fostered widespread awareness on observing environmental protection laws, and channeled the strength of the rule of law into building an even more beautiful China with green mountains, clear waters, and fresh air.
We achieved real progress in research.
Our research initiatives constitute important channels through which the Standing Committee carries out oversight of work performance. Last year, members of the Chairperson’s Council, the Standing Committee, special committees, and work committees conducted a total of 232 research projects, leading to the compilation of 307 reports. The Standing Committee launched research projects focusing on major issues pertaining to the development of the 14th Five-Year Plan, the implementation of its resolution on environmental protection, the initiative to cherish food and oppose waste, the reform of the social insurance system and the implementation of the Social Insurance Law, initiatives to foster ethnic unity and progress, and the management and reform of government investment funds.
For instance, special committees and work committees spent more than four months conducting the research project regarding the formulation of the 14th Five-Year Plan. As a result of meticulous organization, 22 reports were produced on the basis of acquiring a thorough understanding of the following: issues concerning ethnic groups; national security; finance and the economy; education, science, culture, and public health; overseas Chinese affairs; environmental protection; agriculture, rural areas, and rural residents; and social security.
We worked through multiple channels to ensure the application of our research results, so that these research reports not only serve the NPC in its mission to carry out oversight and enact and revise laws, but they are also referred to by central Party and government departments in their decision-making processes and in carrying out their duties.