Monday, March 13, 2023

Changes to expedite "emergency" laws are approved by the Chinese parliament

China's parliament approves changes to speed up 'emergency' laws


BEIJING: The official Xinhua news agency reported that the Chinese parliament approved Monday amendments to a law that would speed up the passage of emergency legislation, a move that, according to analysts, could further weaken public debate and scrutiny.

The amendment to the Legislation Law, which sets the rules for how laws are made, gives the highest body of the national parliament, the roughly 170-member National People's Congress Standing Committee, special authority to make laws after one review session.

Readouts from delegates' meetings published during the annual parliamentary gathering, which closed on Monday morning, indicate that it is an "inevitable requirement for strengthening the (ruling Communist) party's overall leadership over legislative work" and an "important measure" to "further improve the quality and efficiency of legislation."

In China, draft laws and amendments are typically made public to get public feedback. They are then approved by the rubber-stamp parliament after at least two meetings of the NPC Standing Committee have been held, which can take several months.

However, there have always been exceptions.

The semiautonomous city of Hong Kong was subjected to a national security law by China three years ago that criminalized a wide range of vaguely defined offenses with the intention of suppressing dissent.

Legislation that, according to critics, further undermined Hong Kong's rule of law and restricted freedoms in the financial center was also passed after only one review by the NPC Standing Committee.

China has denied criticism of the law on multiple occasions, claiming that it safeguards the liberties of Hong Kong residents and only targets a small number of "criminals" who "endanger national security."

The amended Legislation Law could be "abused and may well be abused in ramming through laws without much consultation or public notice," according to Hofstra University constitutional law professor Julian Ku.

The definition of an emergency situation was not included in the most recent law's draft, which was released on March 5. The final text hasn't been made public yet.

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