China’s top legislators pledge to safeguard sovereignty, security interests

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 – China’s top legislators on Friday vowed to enact a slew of new laws to “modernize China’s system and capacity for national security” and safeguard the country’s sovereign interests.

The roughly 170-member National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), gathering at the annual meeting of parliament in Beijing, pledged to enact legislation including an emergency management law and atomic energy law.

They also said they would revise laws on national defense education and cybersecurity this year, according to a work report delivered by the NPCSC’s chairman and the Communist Party’s third-ranked official, Zhao Leji.

The annual legislative plan had an increased focus on national security, in line with President Xi Jinping’s growing focus on preventing internal and external threats in response to intensifying geopolitical competition.

China’s cybersecurity law, enacted in 2016, is a cornerstone of its big tech regulation. Beijing has in the past three years tightened regulation over how its companies store and transfer user data, citing national security concerns.

The separate Supreme People’s Court work report also vowed to “apply the concept of overall national security” to its work this year.

During most of Zhao’s address, Xi did not open the work report. But while Chinese Supreme Court chief Zhang Jun read out his work report, Xi had an animated discussion with Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Wang Huning, the Party’s fourth-ranked official in charge of Taiwan policy.

Other new legislation to be formulated this year includes a financial stability law and private sector promotion law, and the legislative body plans to revise existing laws on mineral resources, unfair competition, public bidding and civil aviation. The lawmaking body also plans to draft an environmental code.

The formulation of laws on private sector promotion could be a positive signal for private firms after confidence weakened amid tough legislation on anti-espionage and restrictions on overseas data transfers enacted in recent years, but the work report did not give further details.

The NPCSC report also took on an international focus, vowing to “strengthen legislation in areas involving foreign affairs and develop a system of laws for extraterritorial application.”

“We will use legal means to stand up for our country in the international arena and resolutely safeguard our sovereignty, security and development interests,” Zhao said in the NPCSC report.

The Hong Kong government published the draft of its national security bill, Article 23, on Friday. The NPCSC work report vowed to “see that the legal systems and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security are properly implemented” in “special administrative regions” such as Hong Kong, without mentioning the Chinese-controlled financial center by name.

The NPCSC also pledged to expand interactions with foreign parliaments this year, including hosting seminars in China for foreign parliamentarians and their staff. – Reuters

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