Enacting Law on Foreign State Immunity aims to improve China’s system for immunity of foreign states: Chinese Foreign Ministry
Published: Sep 05, 2023 01:57 PM Updated: Sep 05, 2023 01:55 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Enacting the Law on Foreign State Immunity is a normal legislative activity conducted by the Standing Committee of China’s National People's Congress (NPC), the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in response to removing absolute immunity from China’s foreign states immunity law which was passed recently and will take effect on January 1, 2024. 

China has long taken the stance that states and their property are immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of other states. Previously, it has never allowed a case where a foreign state or government was sued, nor has it allowed any claim involving a foreign state or their property.

The unprecedented decision made by the Standing Committee of NPC on September 1 as part of the country's efforts to step up legislation in fields related to foreign affairs will allow cases against foreign states in Chinese courts, a move that will align its take on “foreign state immunity” with mainstream Western practices. 

The law stipulates provisions related to foreign state immunity in line with international practices and aims to improve China’s foreign state immunity system, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson explained on Tuesday, noting that it stipulates the rules for Chinese courts to handle civil cases involving a foreign state and its property, with a view to protecting the lawful rights and interests of the parties concerned. 

The law safeguards the sovereign equality of states, and promoting friendly exchanges with other countries, which all in turn boost China’s higher-level opening-up, the spokesperson added. 

According to the spokesperson, the Law on Foreign State Immunity affirms the fundamental principle that a foreign state and its property enjoy immunity in China, at the same time stipulates exceptions relating to non-sovereign act of a foreign state, under which Chinese courts can exercise jurisdiction, such as cases involving disputes arising out of a commercial activity, relevant personal injury and property damage.

The law also states that Chinese courts can take compulsory judicial measures against a foreign state’s commercial property under strictly limited circumstances and it fully adheres to international law and it is also consistent with general state practices, the spokesperson noted. 

As a responsible major country, China firmly upholds the principle of sovereign equality and will faithfully implement this Law to protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese nationals and legal persons and respect the immunities enjoyed by foreign states under international law, the spokesperson added. 

Global Times