China’s top legislature opens bi-monthly session

 

 

 

Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC),

presides over the 13th meeting of the 12th NPC Standing Committee, at the Great Hall of the People

in Beijing on February 25, 2015.   Photos by Xie Huanchi

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-02-25 20:31:05

 

China’s top legislature

opens bi-monthly session

 

By Guo Likun and Wang Cong

 

 

A bi-monthly session of China’s top legislature opened on Wednesday of February 25, which will prepare for the upcoming annual parliamentary session, and continue the review on draft legislation for the country’s first counterterrorism law.

Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), presided over the opening meeting of the session, which runs from Wednesday through Friday.

The meeting will prepare for the upcoming annual session of the NPC, slated for next month.

A draft report on the work of the NPC Standing Committee was tabled for review by lawmakers. The report will be submitted to the annual session if adopted by the Standing Committee members.

Lawmakers discussed the agenda of the annual session, the candidates for the session’s presidium and secretary-general, as well as the list of observers at the session.

They also reviewed draft legislation for the counterterrorism law, tabled for a second reading this time, which included an updated definition of the term “terrorism”. The draft also proposed better aerospace control in China to guard against potential drone attacks.

In addition, the meeting saw a bill on revisions to the Law on Promoting the Transformation of Scientific and Technological Achievements tabled for its first hearing. This will be the first amendment attempt since the law took effect in 1996.

The revision aims to introduce incentive mechanisms that motivate research establishments and scientists, and ensure enterprises play a leading role in making academic inventions more market-oriented.

Lawmakers also reviewed a draft decision by the State Council, China’s cabinet, to better protect farmers’ property rights in 33 county-level areas selected to pilot rural land use reform measures.

Wednesday’s agenda also included reviews on three international treaties, including a cooperation pact between China and Turkmenistan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |  2015-02-25 19:02:27

 

Lawmakers weigh

China’s draft anti-terrorism law

 

By Wang Cong and Huang Xiaoxi

 

Chinese lawmakers began reviewing draft legislation for the country’s first anti-terrorism law on Wednesday of February 25, to better counter terrorist activity while protecting citizens’ rights.

The draft proposal, which comes weeks after fatal attacks in Paris, France, and Copenhagen, Denmark, is China’s latest attempt to address terrorism at home and help maintain world security.

Explaining the draft at a bi-monthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), Su Zelin, deputy director with the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee, said in the wake of new developments in the world’s war on terrorism, China is facing a “new situation” in terms of its legislative work.

The draft law, when passed, could strengthen China’s counter-terrorism efforts, he said.

One notable change in Wednesday’s text, tabled for a second reading this time, is an updated definition of the term “terrorism”.

According to the new draft, terrorism is defined as “any speech or activity that, by means of violence, sabotage or threat, generates social panic, undermines public security, and menaces government organs and international organizations.”

The definition of terrorism in an earlier draft, submitted in October, also included “thoughts” in addition to “speeches and activities”, but these were deleted for the sake of accuracy and applicability.

In addition, the draft proposed better aerospace control in China to guard against potential drone attacks.

“Flight control, civil aviation and public security authorities [...] must enhance management of aerospace, aircraft and flight activities, and stay on high alert for terrorist activity against aircraft or those conducted via flight activities,” the draft read.

It also sought to strike a balance between combating extremism and protecting people’s rights.

In particular, security authorities’ access to citizens’ information via telecom and Internet technology now must undergo “strict approval procedures”, and information obtained in accordance with the draft law could only be used for the purpose of counter-terrorism operations, the draft stressed.

Approval must also be obtained to inquire into, seal up, seize and freeze suspicious assets linked to terrorist activity, it read.

The new draft has come at a delicate time in China, as the country will mark the one-year anniversary of a deadly terrorist attack in southwest China’s Yunnan Province on Sunday.

Twenty-nine people were killed and scores more were injured by knife-wielding assailants at a train station in the province’s capital city of Kunming on March 1, 2014.

China does not have anti-terrorism legislation at the moment, though related provisions are scattered in various NPC Standing Committee decisions, as well as the Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Law and Emergency Response Law.

The NPC’s standing committee passed a decision to improve anti-terrorism work in October 2011, but it was never made into law.

The lack of systematic law in the field has hampered China’s fight against terrorism, with its efforts deemed not forceful enough.

A string of appalling attacks on civilians in recent years have made headlines in the country’s newspapers.

An assault on a market in Xinjiang’s regional capital of Urumqi on May 22 last year killed more than 30 people and injured 94 others, prompting a year-long campaign against terrorism.

Terrorist attacks have also spread to other parts of the country. Three people were killed and 39 other injured when a sports utility vehicle plowed into crowds near Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing on Oct. 28, 2013. The suspects died at the scene.

The attacks have brought greater urgency to Chinese lawmakers’ drafting of an anti-terrorism law. The first draft of the law was submitted for legislators’ review in October.

The draft, which was later published online to solicit opinions, is targeted at boosting information sharing across government bodies and among the military, armed police and militia, and stipulated measures on Internet security, the examination of transport, dangerous materials, prevention of terrorism financing, and border controls.

In particular, it proposed the establishment of an anti-terrorism intelligence gathering center to coordinate and streamline intelligence gathering in the field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |   2015-02-25 18:31:59

Lawmakers mull

China’s pilot rural land use reform

 

By Wang Cong and Yu Xiaojie

 

Chinese lawmakers on Wednesday of February 25 reviewed a draft decision by the State Council, China’s cabinet, to better protect farmers’ property rights in areas selected to pilot rural land use reform measures.

The draft decision, which requires lawmakers to approve the suspension of a number of provisions in China’s current Law on Land Management and the Law on Urban Real Estate Administration in selected counties and districts, could help pave the way for future rural land reform.

In the 33 chosen localities, which includes Daxing district, Beijing; Songjiang District, Shanghai; and Quxu County, Tibet Autonomous Region; rural construction land will have the same rights and market price as state-owned construction land.

The right of use for existing collectively-owned rural construction land can be transferred, leased and traded for shares, according to the draft, which was tabled for review at a bi-monthly session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.

Meanwhile, the authority to approve land for building a rural dwelling will be delegated to lower levels, the draft read. Townships can approve the use of existing construction land, while counties have the power to approve the use of new construction land.

In addition, housing and social insurance must be properly arranged for farmers whose land is expropriated, it said, adding that authorities must provide training, pension and medical care for eligible farmers.

Minister of Land and Resources Jiang Daming said the measures shall be carried out on the conditions that public ownership of land would not be changed, the “red-line” minimum of arable land was not breached and farmers’ rights were not undermined.

Lawmakers will vote later this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING  |   2015-02-25 20:00:47

 

China mulls law revision

to make academic inventions applicable

 

By Guo Likun and Yu Xiaojie

 

China’s top legislature on Wednesday of February 25 reviewed a draft law amendment that aims to facilitate the commercial development of inventions made in research institutes and universities.

The bill, on revising the Law on Promoting the Transformation of Scientific and Technological Achievements, was tabled at the bi-monthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, which runs from Wednesday to Friday.

“Although the law, which took effect in 1996, has helped propel sci-tech achievements into production, many provisions no longer fit with China’s deepening reform and pursuit of innovation driven development,” Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang told lawmakers.

The revision, the first such attempt, aims to introduce mechanisms to motivate research and ensure enterprises play a leading role in making academic inventions more market-oriented, Wan said.

The draft includes articles on the disposal and usufruct of research results.

Among the major revisions, state-owned research institutes and universities will be allowed to transfer or license use of their achievements or invest with them as trade-in.

Instead of turning over gains to the central treasury, the draft allows research establishments to retain all income from the transaction, thus, allowing them to award meritorious scientists and fund future research projects.

In addition to a bottom line of no less than 20 percent of the transfer or license fee for contributing scientists, the draft stipulates that research establishments may fix rewards through contractual agreements with their staff.

“By doing so, the bill has left space for augmented awards for sci-tech personnel,” Wan said, adding that the contracts should be prioritized.

To redress the current emphasis on theoretical achievements over application, the bill asked research establishments and their supervisory government organs to set up appraisal systems, which in turn could promote the application of new academic achievements.

New regulations were also raised that would give enterprises more say in prospective research projects.

Advice from industries or enterprises should be taken when setting up research projects using fiscal funding or the drafting of sci-tech plans, according to the bill.

Also, government agencies should ensure enterprises play a leading role in research direction, project implementation and application of results in fiscal funded projects that have clear market prospects or industrial goals, it said.

To enhance interaction between scientists and potential industrial users, the draft encouraged enterprises, research institutes and universities to jointly set up R&D platforms and technology transfer institutions, and to engage in more exchanges and joint training.

While allowing the market to play a more decisive role, the government has placed innovation driven development in a more prominent position.

In a key policy meeting in October, the Communist Party of China (CPC) promised enhanced legislation in key areas, including intellectual property rights protection and promoting transformation of sci-tech achievements to invigorate innovation.

The bill was tabled to break certain rigid mechanisms that had stifled creativity and isolated academic research from attainting its full market potential.

New rules had been included in the bill to allow trading venues and services including information analysis, appraisal and brokerage, Wan said.

The draft also promoted the establishment of a reporting system and a data bank of sci-tech achievements, which would ensure public transparency.

Moreover, new rules were included that would boost financial support for commercial use of sci-tech achievements from financial, insurance and venture capital institutions, in matters of loans and new insurance products.

The government should encourage the development of incubators for enterprises to assist in the creation and early stage growth of small and medium-sized new businesses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BEIJING  |  2015-02-26 21:45:56

 

Lawmakers revise

China’s draft Counterterrorism Law

 

By Wang Cong

 

Lawmakers on Thursday of February 26 suggested revisions to the draft of China’s first Counterterrorism Law. [ A bi-monthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) gave a second reading to the draft law, coining a narrower definition of the term “terrorism”.

Terrorism is defined as “any speech or activity that, by means of violence, sabotage or threat, generates social panic, undermines public security, and menaces government departments or international organizations”. An earlier draft in October had included “thoughts” in addition to “speech or activity”.

The draft proposes better aerospace control to guard against drone attacks and tries to strike a balance between combating extremism and protecting people’s rights.

An NPC statement said lawmakers agreed that China faces a “real and long-term” threat to the lives and property of the Chinese people, and that terrorist attacks had severely damaged national security and social order. A specialized counterterrorism law, the lawmakers were quoted as saying, is imperative in such circumstances.

Currently, China’s provisions on counterterrorism are scattered across various NPC Standing Committee decisions along with the criminal, criminal procedure and emergency response laws. The new draft already had changes to the definition of “terrorism” and a better balance between counterterrorism and human rights protection, but further revisions were recommended on the basis of public opinion.

Demands for a specific Counterterrorism Law grew following recent attacks.

Three people were killed and 39 injured when a vehicle plowed into crowds at Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing on Oct. 28, 2013.

In southwest China’s Yunnan Province, 29 people were killed and scores were injured in a concerted knife attack at a train station in the capital Kunming on March 1 last year.

On May 22 last year, an assault on a market in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region killed more than 30 people and injured 94 others.

The first draft of the law, submitted for review in October, proposed an counterterrorism agency to coordinate and streamline intelligence gathering.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING   |  2015-02-26 22:16:10

 

Chinese lawmakers

discuss forthcoming

parliamentary session

 

By Guo Likun

 

Members of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) discussed a draft report on their work on Thursday of February 26.

The report will be submitted to the NPC’s annual session next month if adopted by the committee.

The committee explored ways to improve its work by expanding channels for deputies and the public to participate in the legislative process.

In the past year, the committee made legislation in accordance with the NPC’s demand for change and to advance rule of law.

Lawmakers were pleased with the designation of Dec. 4 as National Constitution Day last year as a demonstration of confidence in the NPC system and the Constitution.

Interaction between the NPC Standing Committee, deputies and local legislatures also improved through inspections and research on the work of the people’s congresses at county and village level.

Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, on Thursday presided over a meeting to hear reports on bills under review including a draft decision to pilot rural land reform in 33 selected county-level areas and three international treaties, including a cooperation pact between China and Turkmenistan.

Opinions on the agenda of the annual parliamentary session, candidates for the session’s presidium and secretary-general, as well as the list of observers were also heard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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