Published On: Tue, Feb 23rd, 2016

A good and effective law to fight terrorism

Peoples Liberation Army Beijing China

By Hu Aimin

China is a victim of terrorism, and to fight the menace and better protect its national interests, it has been strengthening its security measures. And with security concerns intensifying within and outside the country, China has enacted a law to fight terrorism.

Chinese lawmakers should be applauded for having worked tirelessly to draft the country’s first counter-terrorism law, which was passed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee late last year and took effect on Jan 1 this year. This highly anticipated law will provide legal support to China’s fight against terrorism, including cooperation with the international community.

Although a recent poll showed most Chinese people support the law, some countries and their media outlets have voiced “concerns”, alleging the law is “controversial”, “will do more harm than good against the threat of terrorism”, and claiming it could restrict freedom of expression and association, and constrict some country’s trade with and investments in China.

Needless to say, such remarks and allegations are groundless.

The new law, inspired by some foreign laws, clearly defines “terrorism” as any proposition or activity that “infringes on personal and property rights, and menaces government organs and international organizations”. It tells the world that taking measures to prevent the spread of and cracking down on terrorism amounts to safeguarding human rights. The Chinese lawmakers have been reiterating that the principle of this law is to regulate the process of carrying out the law and preventing people’s legal rights from being violated. So any worry about human rights violation is unnecessary.

The clauses in the new law, which require technology companies to provide technical interfaces, decryption and other assistance in anti-terror investigations, will not necessarily lead to a breach of privacy and infringement on intellectual property rights, because the requirement for technical assistance will go through a rigid procedure of approval and authorization, and its use will be strictly limited to public security organs and national security agencies.

While pointing the finger at the new law, the detractors seem to be turning a blind eye to the fact that many countries’ laws stipulate that technology companies are obliged to cooperate in terror-related surveillance and investigations. Take last year’s United States’ Freedom Act for example. The act allows the bulk collection of US citizens’ metadata by phone companies and various business records that the government could sift through later.

Many people may also be aware of the United Kingdom’s Emergency Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill in 2014, which allows police and security agencies to acquire customer data from telecom and Internet companies in order to combat criminal and terrorist activities. Also, France, Canada, Japan and many other countries have enacted similar laws to fight terrorism and strengthen security. But we have not yet heard that the laws have directly influenced the trade and investment in or of any country.

Like the US and French people, the Chinese people will also never forget the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the US or the Nov 13, 2015, Paris massacre. As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said: “China is also a victim of terrorism, and cracking down on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement should become an important part of the international fight against terrorism.”

Therefore, China should firmly crack down on terrorism, rather than waver in its resolve because of the unfair and biased accusations by some countries and media outlets, because in the long run, the new anti-terror law will help build a better and safer country and strengthen the global efforts to eradicate terrorism.

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