China vows legislation focus on tackling foreign interference
Published: Mar 08, 2022 10:01 PM
Two Sessions Photo:Xinhua

Two Sessions Photo:Xinhua

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China's top legislature vowed to enrich the country's legal toolkit and develop a more comprehensive system of laws and regulations concerning foreign affairs in 2022, after it passed milestone laws and regulations including the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law last year and adopted necessary countermeasures against unjustified extraterritorial application of foreign legislation amid US-led bullying sanctions.

Some legal experts predicted that the legislation work related to foreign affairs this year will focus on fighting the West-led sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction, especially following the Ukraine-Russia crisis when the US escalated the sanctions against Russia, which could also weigh on China's interests. Future work would center on how to effectively protect China's sovereignty and development interests on questions related to Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan, like effectively implementing the legal mechanism in fighting against the collusion between die-hard secessionists in the island of Taiwan and foreign forces. 

During the delivery of a work report of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee to the second plenary meeting of the fifth session of the 13th NPC on Tuesday, Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, told lawmakers that China will upgrade its legal toolkit and develop a more complete system of laws and regulations on foreign affairs to safeguard the country's national security. Li also noted that the work where 2022 would also include ratifying treaties and agreements with foreign countries and decisions on accession to international treaties.

In summarizing the highlights of the previous work, Li said China formulated the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law as part of improving the legal system for fighting foreign countries' long-arm jurisdiction and foreign sanctions and interference. According to this law, if any country with an excuse and means to interfere in China's internal affairs and harm the interests of the country, organizations, and individuals, China has the right to take corresponding countermeasures, Li said during the conference, receiving a round of applause when he mentioned this highly expected law passed in June 2021. 

Top Chinese lawmakers voted in June 2021 to pass the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law, providing a comprehensive legal basis for blocking illegal foreign sanctions and preventing Chinese individuals and entities from suffering the damage resulting from such illegal sanctions.

China made significant progress in legislation last year in order to counter the West-led containment, meddling, interference and attempts arousing chaos in China, in order to safeguard national security and sovereignty. However, more work needs to be done in 2022 especially as the Ukraine-Russia crisis vividly underscores how the US-led West abuses its power in the West-controlled international system and excessively uses sanctions for its geopolitical battle in maintaining the hegemony, some legal experts said, who also warned that the US-led all-out containment of Russia sounds a warning shot for China, making "the acceleration of legal work relevant to foreign affairs" an urgent issue. 

The Russia-Ukraine conflict profoundly influenced the international geopolitical landscape and posed a major challenge to China's foreign affairs legislation, as it also changes the international environment that China faces, Huo Zhengxin, a law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

"Among those sanctions that the US-led West launched against Russia are secondary sanctions which could inevitability affect China's interests, and it's challenging work to use legal tools to safeguard the interests of the country, companies and individuals," he said. 

Following the Ukraine-Russia crisis, European countries would follow more closely the moves of the US, which can expand the transatlantic sanctions coordination mechanism to jointly enforce the sanctions and containment against China, Huo noted. 

Following Russia's military operation in Ukraine, the US and the EU launched a new round of sanctions against Russia covering a wide range of sectors such as finance and trade, travel, air services, sports and culture. The exclusion of certain Russian banks from the SWIFT system is also considered a vivid example of how the US abuses the global finance governance for its own interests. 

"This serves as a lesson for China, as today's Russia could be tomorrow's China," Tian Feilong, a legal expert at Beihang University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday. Another major focus of China's legislation work on foreign affairs is to actively participate in the formulation of international laws and regulations, exploring new mechanisms that could benefit global development rather than being controlled by Western hegemony, Tian noted. 

"For example, the US-controlled SWIFT has not been a fair and justified system in global governance. Instead, it has become a tool misused by the US, and how to fight this hegemony in the finance sector should also be part of our focus," he said. 

After the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law was passed, the Chinese government imposed reciprocal sanctions against six US individuals and one entity, including former US secretary of commerce Wilbur Louis Ross, and Carolyn Bartholomew, chairman of US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), over Hong Kong affairs last July, which was the first time the law was used. 

China's commerce ministry also unveiled rules on taking necessary countermeasures against the unjustified application of foreign laws in January 2021. Those rules say that Chinese people can file lawsuits in local courts, if a judgment or ruling based on foreign laws subjects them to losses. 

"In fighting foreign sanctions, we do not lack the legal basis but need to work more on the calculation of the interests and effective law enforcement," Tian said, suggesting that it should disclose the outcome of China's countermeasures and relevant details to make sure that the laws not only have deterrent effects but also the real impact.