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China mulls anti-terror law to tackle domestic, global threats


Beijing, Feb 25: China is planning to promulgate its first anti-terror law next month to address growing concern over terrorism at home and help maintain global security after a spate of violent extremist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen.

The draft proposal, to be finalised by Chinese legislature the National People's Congress (NPC), comes weeks after fatal attacks in the French capital and the Danish capital. The draft proposal "is China's latest attempt to address terrorism at home and help maintain world security," state-run Xinhua news agency reported today.


The draft proposal would also deal with the security threats posed by hostile drones. China does not have anti-terrorism legislation at the moment, though related provisions are scattered in various NPC Standing Committee decisions, as well as the Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Law and Emergency Response Law. Su Zelin, deputy director with the Commission for Legislative Affairs, said China faces a "new situation" in the wake of new developments in the world's war on terror.

Su said the draft, when passed, could boost Chinese counter-terrorism efforts as it has an updated definition of terrorism. The proposed draft defines terrorism as "any speech or activity that, by means of violence, sabotage or threat, generates social panic, undermines public security, and menaces government organs and international organisations."

The draft also proposes better aerospace control in China to guard against potential drone attacks. "Flight control, civil aviation and public security authorities [...] must enhance management of aerospace, aircraft and flight activities, and stay on high alert for terrorist activity against aircraft or those conducted via flight activities," it reads.

China faces a grim security scenario especially in the northwestern Xinjiang, where the banned East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), fighting for the independence of the region, is active among 11 million Uygurs who resent settlements by Han Chinese from other provinces. The ETIM, apart from staging attacks in Xinjiang, have carried out attacks in Beijing and other cities like Kunming.

The new anti-terrorism draft legislation seeks to strike a balance between combating extremism and protecting people's rights, the report said. In particular, security authorities' access to citizens' information via telecom and Internet technology now must undergo "strict approval procedures", and information obtained in accordance with the draft law could only be used for the purpose of counter-terrorism operations, the draft stresses.

The draft has come at a delicate time in China, as the country on Sunday marks the first anniversary of the deadly terrorist attack in southwest China's Yunnan Province. Twenty-nine people were killed and scores were injured by knife-wielding assailants at a train station in the province's capital Kunming on March 1, 2014.


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