To counter sanctions against Chinese entities and officials by Western nations, China on Thursday passed a law that is said to be providing a comprehensive legal cover for blocking the foreign penalties.
The Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law, as it is called, was passed by the National People's Congress Standing Committee and aims “to prevent discriminatory measures against Chinese citizens or entities”.
Why the law?
The law comes as the US and EU nations have been slapping sanctions against several Chinese entities and officials on allegations of human rights violations against Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang and the imposition of China's national security law in Hong Kong.
The sanctions were collectively introduced by the European Union, UK, US and Canada. China has responded to them with its own set of sanctions on European officials.
Meanwhile, the US government's sanctions have been increasing against a number of Chinese entities like Huawei and ZTE over "national security risks". It has also issued sanctions against a number of senior Chinese officials under the United States Xinjiang and Hong Kong bills last year.
According to China's state-controlled Global Times, the new law prevents "damage resulting from illegal (Western) sanctions".
The office of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC has alleged that these Western nations have used Xinjiang and Hong Kong-related issues to spread rumours to suppress China.
Speaking about the law, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Thursday said that the government announced counter measures against relevant individuals and entities of certain nations only "to safeguard China's national sovereignty, dignity, and core interests and oppose western hegemonism and power politics".
What does the law do?
According to China's legal experts, the law will provide strong legal support and guarantees for the country against "unilateral and discriminatory measures imposed by foreign countries".
While the Chinese authorities have remained tight-lipped on the exact provisions in the law, Beijing has said that the "law grants authorities the flexibility to choose which measures to be used to hit back".
According to the law, that includes 16 articles, Chinese citizens and organisations can file a lawsuit with the people's court against any foreign entity or individual taking “discriminatory measures”, a Global Times report said. Thereafter, authorities such as the Chinese foreign ministry, state council or others will release the list of countermeasures to be taken against the errant foreign nation or individual/entity, it added.
The counter measures may include seizing and freezing assets within China, denying and revoking visas or expulsion, blocking transactions and cooperation with Chinese individuals and entities, among others. Foreign companies doing business in China may also have to undergo increased scrutiny from Chinese authorities, as per several media reports.
The law also allows punitive measures against the relatives of an 'errant' foreign individual taking unilateral actions against China, according to Global Times.
First Published: IST