(June 26, 2009) It was reported on June 15, 2009, that the Ninth Session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) is scheduled to be held from June 22-27, 2009. According to the legislative agenda, the top legislature will discuss for the first time the following draft documents:
· Draft Amendment to the Law on Guarding State Secrets;
· Draft Law on Diplomatic Personnel Stationed Abroad; and
· Draft Law on Protection of Sea Islands.
In addition, this session will also continue to discuss the following draft legislation:
· Draft Law on the Arbitration of Rural Land Contract Disputes;
· Draft Amendment to the Law on Statistics; and
· Draft Amendment to the Law on State Compensation.
(China's Top Legislature to Review Draft Laws on Islands, State Secrets, XINHUANET, June 15, 2009, available at http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-06/15/content_11546308.htm.)
The Law on Guarding State Secrets was originally promulgated by the NPC Standing Committee in 1988 and entered into effect on May 1, 1989. According to the Law, state secrets are matters that have a vital bearing on state security and national interests and, as specified by legal procedure, are entrusted to a limited number of people for a given period of time (art. 2). Secrets concerning major policy decisions on state affairs, national defense and the armed forces; diplomatic activities; national economic and social development; science and technology; activities to safeguard national security; and the investigation of criminal offenses may be determined to be state secrets (art. 8). The state secrets are divided into three categories: most confidential; classified, and confidential, and are protected accordingly (art. 9). (An English translation of the law is available on the website of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, http://www.cecc.gov/pages/newLaws/protectSecretsENG.php (last visited June 16, 2009).) In the draft amendment discussed in the State Council, the methods to safeguard information systems involving state secrets will be enhanced; the determination, alteration, and declassification of a state secret will be systemized; and the legal liabilities will be increased. (Leaders' Activities [in Chinese], The Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China official website, Apr. 1, 2009, available at http://www.gov.cn/ldhd/2009-04/01/content_1274949.htm.)