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China's Top Legislature Opens Bimonthly Session

China's top legislature started its bimonthly session on June 22, with lawmakers scheduled to deliberate on draft laws concerning national intelligence and the national anthem, among others.

Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), presided over the opening meeting of the six-day session.

A law on national intelligence is needed to ensure the nation's security interests are met, according to the NPC Law Committee.

Lawmakers also began reviewing a draft amendment on water pollution, which included provisions on the safety of drinking water.

The draft amendment to the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law suggests that the river-chief system should be rolled out across the provincial, city, county and township levels, with leading officials assigned the responsibility of addressing water pollution.

Luo Qingquan from the NPC Environment Protection and Resources Conservation Committee explained the draft law on soil pollution during the session.

There will be national standards to minimize soil pollution risk. A network of monitoring stations will be established with data and other information collected and shared among environmental, agricultural, housing, forestry, health and land resource authorities, according to the draft.

According to the draft law on the national anthem, which was submitted to the Standing Committee of NPC for its first reading, the song should not be performed at funerals or other "improper events" nor should it be used in advertisements or as background music at public places.

The national anthem, the "March of the Volunteers," was composed by Nie Er, and its lyrics written by poet Tian Han.

According to the draft, anyone found to have "maliciously modified the lyrics or performed it in a distorted or disrespectful way" could face up to 15 days in detention.

The draft law on public libraries will also be reviewed over the coming few days, as the government moves to improve the function of libraries in line with their role as gateways to knowledge and culture.

The draft amendments to the administrative and civil procedure laws were given a first reading at the session, which feature provisions to allow prosecutors to institute public interest litigation.

Lawmakers will deliberate extradition treaties between China and the countries of Argentina and Ethiopia; discuss an agreement on the establishment of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Institute; and review a draft amendment to the law on small and medium-sized enterprises.

They are also scheduled to deliberate a report on the central government's 2016 final accounts and an audit report on the central government's budget for 2016.

(Xinhua News Agency June 22, 2017)
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