THE National People’s Congress (全國人民代表大會) said its Standing Committee adopted the country’s first anti-terrorism law with a unanimous vote.
The legislation went into effect today.
Rights advocates and foreign governments, including Washington (華盛頓), expressed concern about the law’s likely impact on tech businesses and freedom of speech.
They said it is troublesome that telecommunications companies and internet service providers are required to share encryption keys and back-door access with police and state security agents seeking to prevent terrorist activities or investigating terror acts.
Chinese officials said the requirements for the tech firms are necessary because terrorists are increasingly turning to cyberspace.
They said lawmakers balanced the need to fight terrorism and to protect business interests and public rights.
“Relevant regulations in the anti-terrorism law will not affect the normal business operation of companies, and we do not use the law to set up ‘back doors’ to violate the intellectual property rights of companies,” said Li Shouwei (李壽偉) of the NPC Standing Committee’s legislative affairs commission.
“The law will not damage people’s freedom of speech or religion,” Li said.
Beijing has asserted that China is a victim of global terrorism following violent ethnic clashes involving members of the Muslim (穆斯林) minority Uighur (維吾爾族) community in Xinjiang (新疆). Foreign experts, however, have argued that there is no proof of foreign ties and that the violence in Xinjiang might be homegrown.
China has criticised the West for adopting double standards. Beijing recently refused to renew the press credentials of a French journalist, effectively expelling her, for questioning its equating of ethnic conflicts with global terrorism. (AP, 27 December 2015)
(This article is published on Sing Tao Daily on 1 Jan 2016)
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