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China adopts new national security law

Xinhua, July 1, 2015 Adjust font size:

China's top legislature on Wednesday adopted a new national security law highlighting cyber security and demanding the set-up of a coordinated, efficient crisis management system.

Of the 155 lawmakers at a bi-monthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, 154 voted for the legislation. One abstained.

The new law, which will enter into force once signed by President Xi Jinping, covers a wide spectrum of topics including defense, finance, science and technology, culture and religion.

Security is a top issue in China. A National Security Commission headed by Xi was established in 2013.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference, Zheng Shuna with the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee said the law was crucial in the face of "ever-growing security challenges".

"We are under dual pressures... Externally speaking, the country must defend its sovereignty, security and development interests, and internally speaking, it must also maintain political security and social stability," Zheng said.

The country hence needs overarching legislation that can help it deal with national security threats and risks, she said.

China's first National Security Law took effect in 1993 and primarily regulated the work of the country's national security agencies, whose major duty is counterespionage. It was renamed the Counterespionage Law in November.

The new law, meanwhile, defined national security as a condition in which a country's government, sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity, population, economy and society are relatively safe and not subject to internal and external threats. It also includes the capacity to sustain such a secure condition.

Zheng rejected the notion that such a definition is "too broad".

"Any government will stand firm and will not leave any room for disputes, compromises and interferences when it comes to protecting their core interests," she said. "China is no exception."

One key element of the new law is a clause on cyberspace sovereignty. China will make core Internet and information technologies, infrastructure as well as information systems and data in key sectors "secure and controllable", it read.

A national Internet and information safeguard system will be established to level up its capability to protect cyber and information security, and enhance innovative research, development and application of Internet and information technology.

Zheng termed cyberspace sovereignty as the embodiment and extension of national sovereignty in cyberspace, adding that the Internet is key national infrastructure.

"Internet space within the territories of the People's Republic of China is subject to the country's sovereignty," she said.

China is willing to cooperate with other countries in safeguarding cyber security, build a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace and establish a multilateral, democratic and transparent international Internet management system, Zheng said.

The new law also vowed to set up a coordinated, efficient crisis management system under centralized leadership, and to publish information related to security crises.

Asked to comment on the inclusion of China's activities and assets in space, deep sea and polar regions in the new law, Zheng pointed to similar legislation in the United States, Japan, Russia and Europe.

China's explorations and development of outer space, the international sea bed and polar regions have contributed to better understanding and utilization of resources there and are "conducive to the common interests of mankind," she said, adding that China has the right to protect its activities, assets and personnel in these "new frontiers".