BEIJING — China is revising its Legislation Law in a step toward realizing the rule of law as pledged by the country’s leadership in a major legal reform blueprint in October.
The bill, after the first reading in August, was submitted to the bi-monthly session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, which runs from Dec 22 to Dec 28.
The second edition of the bill has been drafted to meet the targets set by the legal reform plan adopted at the fourth plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in late October, said Qiao Xiaoyang, director of the NPC Law Committee, when elaborating the bill to lawmakers.
The Legislation Law, considered an essential part of China’s legal system, regulates how national law, government regulations and local laws come into shape and defines the legislative powers in the country.
October’s reform plan pledged to promote the rule of law, improving the country’s legal system, pushing the government to function in line with the law, and reforming the judicial system.
To ensure legal governance, a new article in the bill bans local governments from issuing regulations that restrain the rights of a citizen or corporation or increase their liabilities without legal foundation.
The bill allows local governments to issue temporary regulations if they are urgently needed. The temporary regulations will become invalid after two years unless the local legislature adopts laws to support them.
The new version of the bill also further clarifies local legislation while granting lawmaking powers to more cities.
Currently, out of 282 Chinese cities with subordinate districts, only 49 have legislative powers, including 27 provincial capitals, four special economic zones and 18 large cities approved by the State Council.
In its first version, the bill expands lawmaking power over local affairs to all 282 cities.
However, at the previous reading lawmakers voiced concerns about the risk of abuse of legislative powers.
The new version further defines “local affairs” as city infrastructure development, city management and environmental protection as well as public service.
It also said provincial legislatures will decide whether a city is suited to exercising legislative power in terms of its population, geography, economic and social development, legislative capacity and need.
October’s legal reform plan vowed to improve the quality and transparency of legislative work.
The bill responds with articles to streamline the legislative process. For instance, it asks the legislature to host hearings about new laws. The hearings will invite people and departments of interest, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and experts to participate.
When drafting a specialized or technical law, the legislature can invite legal experts to join the work or entrust experts, institutes and NGOs in related areas to draft it.
The new version also adds regulations on which procedures the State Council should take to issue government regulations.
The NPC Standing Committees and NPC special committees are entitled to examine the legitimacy of government rules. In current practice, the legislature only does this as requested.
The bill adds an article allowing the legislature to initiate examinations of legitimacy and publish their results.