China's third plenum

NPC Standing Committee to debate approval of one-child policy, labour camp reforms

Lawmaking body meets to deliberate on bills and drafts, among them the controversial and decades-long 'laojiao' and family planning laws

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 December, 2013, 1:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 November, 2015, 4:11pm

Abolishing a labour camp system and relaxing the decades-long one-child policy are among the highly watched proposals that the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee is expected to discuss during its weeklong meeting, which begins on Monday.

Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the committee, will preside.

The agenda published early last week listed a motion to abolish laojiao, or re-education through labour, and a birth policy resolution as among the bills and drafts that China’s top lawmaking body will discuss at its sixth meeting till Sunday.

Both reforms were announced in the resolution of the third plenum and the bills are being tabled for endorsement so they can be implemented soon.

The proposed revisions to the bill on birth policy will allow couples to have two children, reversing a one-child limit in place since 1979 as a population-control measure.

Under the policy – which has brought a host of social problems along with some advantages – most urban couples are only allowed to have one child, while rural couples can have two if the firstborn is a girl. Couples who violated the policy have been fined and punished.

During this week’s meeting, lawmakers will also deliberate a motion by the State Council to scrap a decision on “the issue of re-education through labour” and its supplementary regulation.

Leaders issued a decision to abolish laojiao last month at the third plenum of the party’s Central Committee.

The laojiao system was established in 1957 for minor offenders whose crime was not severe enough to warrant court proceedings. It allows for detention of up to four years without an open trial.

The Standing Committee will also review draft amendments to laws such as the administrative procedure law, the military facilities protection law and the marine environment protection law.

The 1990 Administrative Procedure Law allows individuals to bring a case against the administration and sue officials for abuse of authority or malfeasance. At present, the Administrative Procedure Law forbids intermediation in the lawsuit against government.

An amendment, if passed, might allow for more lawsuits against errant members of the government.

There had been 1.91 million administrative procedure cases on the mainland between 1990 and last year, many of them involving demolition disputes between citizens and local administrations.