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China passes new anti-terror law
December 28, 2015, 5:46 am

Zhang Dejiang (C), chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC), presides over the closing meeting of the 18th bimonthly meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, in Beijing, capital of China, on Dec. 27, 2015 [Xinhua]

Zhang Dejiang (C), chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC), presides over the closing meeting of the 18th bimonthly meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, in Beijing, capital of China, on Dec. 27, 2015 [Xinhua]

China passed a new anti-terrorism law on Sunday that allows the military to venture overseas on counter-terror operations and gives the central government the power to temporarily freeze the funds of organizations suspected of financing terrorism.

The new law stipulates that State Council (Chinese Cabinet) anti-money laundering authorities may investigate and freeze suspicious capital that could be involved with terrorism.

The move comes in the backdrop of terror attacks in Paris, the bombing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt, and the atrocities of the Islamic State alerting the world about the growing threats of terrorism.

The head of China’s Parliament, Zhang Dejiang, said China’s first counter-terrorism law was “key part of a legal system to ensure national security”.

Zhang, one of China’s most powerful men on the seven-man Politburo Standing Committee, said the law “strengthens measures of prevention, handling, punishment as well as international cooperation”.

The new law will enter into force in January next year.

Before the new bill, China did not have a specialized counter-terrorism law, though related provisions feature in various NPC Standing Committee decisions, as well as the Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Law and Emergency Response Law.

Chinese officials say their country faces a growing threat from militants and separatists, especially in its unruly Western region of Xinjiang, where hundreds have died in violence in the past few years.

“[China] opposes all extremism that seeks to instigate hatred, incite discrimination and advocate violence by distorting religious doctrines and other means, and acts to eradicate the ideological basis for terrorism,” the approved bill read.

At a press conference held on Sunday, An Weixing, an official with the public security ministry said China is facing rising threats of terrorism.

“Terrorist attacks have caused heavy losses of people’s lives and properties, posing a serious threat to our security, stability, economic development and ethnic unity. Terrorism is the public enemy of mankind, and the Chinese government will oppose all forms of terrorism,” An said.

Although Beijing will call upon technology companies to help fight terror, concerns over these firms having “backdoors” installed or losing intellectual property rights are unfounded, said  Li Shouwei, deputy head of the parliament’s criminal law division.

“This rule accords with the actual work need of fighting terrorism and is basically the same as what other major countries in the world do,” Li told reporters.

“The clause reflects lessons China has learned from other countries and is a result of wide solicitation of public opinion,” he added.

“(It) will not affect companies’ normal business nor install backdoors to infringe intellectual property rights, or … citizens freedom of speech on the internet and their religious freedom,” Li said.

Under the new bill, telecom operators and internet service providers in China are required to provide technical support and assistance, including decryption, to police and national security authorities to aid “in prevention and investigation of terrorist activities”.

A national intelligence center will also be established to coordinate inter-departmental and trans-regional efforts on counter-terrorism.

The new law has also includes a provision that says no institution can “report on or disseminate details of terrorist activities that might lead to imitation, nor publish scenes of cruelty and inhumanity”.

It also adds that “none, except news media with approval from counter-terrorism authorities, shall report on or disseminate the personal details of  counter-terrorist workers, hostages or authorities’ response activities”.

The clause was specifically revised to restrict the distribution of terrorism-related information by individual users on social media, earlier reports said.

 

TBP and Agencies

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