China's top legislature, the NPC Standing Committee, on July 1 adopted a controversial new National Security Law that increases cyber security powers. At its bi-monthly session, 155 members of the committee voted on the measure. The law will increase overseeing of the Internet in China, and authorities will now take tougher measures against cyber attacks, thefts and the spread of "harmful information." The law is one of three adopted in recent months to improve China's security and "strengthen ideological control over the public." The law also includes a cyberspace "sovereignty" clause, which covers assets and activities in space, the deep sea and the polar regions. Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC, stated that the law is extremely important due to increasing security problems within China.
The Chinese government has been accused of extreme actions to eliminate perceived threats against its security. In the past year the government has executed eight people for terrorism and separatist-related crimes, as well as sentencing 12 to death for attacks on police and government offices. In January Human Rights Watch criticized China's proposed new counterterrorism legislation as a "recipe for abuses." The Chinese government maintains that their draft law conforms to UN resolutions and that it allows for human rights to be "respected and guaranteed." In early November China's Congress passed a counter-espionage law in order to increase national security. The regulations against NGO's in the current legislation were preceded by a proposal made in December that would tighten registration requirements for the organizations to continue operations in China.
From Jurist, July 3. Used with permission.
Note: The 12 death sentences referenced above are only those for terrorism and related crimes, all ethnic Uighurs from Xinjiang region. China continues to execute thousands annually on other offenses—contributing to a global spike in use of the death penalty.