Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), presides over the first plenary meeting of the 18th session of the Standing Committee of the 11th NPC in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 20, 2010. (Xinhua/Fan Rujun)
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, opened its bimonthly session Monday to read a series of draft laws.
During the six-day session, lawmakers are reading, for the second time, a draft amendment to the Criminal Law, a draft revision to the Law on Water and Soil Conservation, and a draft law on intangible cultural heritage.
In the draft amendment to the Criminal Law, harsher punishment are to be handed down for principal offenders of organized crimes.
Organized crime chiefs will face longer jail terms of up to 15 years and "core members" of organized crime gangs could be jailed for up to seven years, under the proposed amendment to the Criminal Law.
The law currently stipulates that organizers, leaders and core members of crime gangs are all subject to jail terms ranging from three to 10 years.
Drivers involved in car racing, which have caused "serious consequences" and drunk drivers would be detained and fined, the draft amendment says.
Under a proposed change to the Criminal Law, the death penalty will not be given to people aged 75 years or more at the time of trial except if they used exceptional cruelty when murdering another.
The amendment, which is the eighth to the country's 1997 version of the Criminal Law, is meant to further implement the policy of tempering justice with mercy.
If the amendment becomes law, it will be a major move to limit the use of the death penalty, after the Supreme People's Court in 2007 began to review and approve all death penalty decisions.
According to the draft revision of the Water and Soil Conservation Law, local authorities must seek public and expert opinions before drawing up soil and water conservation plans.
The draft also stipulates that penalties for the loss of soil and water must be included in land-use contracts reached with local governments.
Also, the amendment stipulates that public servants responsible for supervising and managing food safety will face up to ten years in jail for dereliction of duty or abuse of power in the case of a severe food safety incident.
The draft further broadens the conditions for food safety crimes. It says those who produce and sell a harmful food product will be punished, even if poisonings fail to occur.
On a different matter, according to the draft Law on Intangible Cultural Heritage, foreign organizations and individuals will have to obtain government approval before conducting surveys of intangible cultural heritage in China.
Also, they will have to conduct surveys in cooperation with Chinese ICH research institutions.
The top legislature conducted the first reading of the draft laws in August.
The legislature will also examine three reports from the State Council on boosting economic and social development in ethnic minority areas, deepening reform of health care systems and stepping up the development of the service sector.
Additionally, lawmakers will discuss a report from the NPC inspection team on the enforcement of the country's Energy Conservation Law.
They will also consider a bill on a draft resolution to convene the fourth annual session of the 11th NPC.
The session was presided over by Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee.Source: Xinhua http://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2010-12/21/nw.D110000renmrb_20101221_3-01.htm?div=-1