BEIJING — Lawmakers on Feb 26 suggested revisions to the draft of China’s first Counterterrorism Law. A bi-monthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) gave a second reading to the draft law, coining a narrower definition of the term “terrorism”.
Terrorism is defined as “any speech or activity that, by means of violence, sabotage or threat, generates social panic, undermines public security, and menaces government departments or international organizations”. An earlier draft in October had included “thoughts” in addition to “speech or activity”.
The draft proposes better aerospace control to guard against drone attacks and tries to strike a balance between combating extremism and protecting people’s rights.
An NPC statement said lawmakers agreed that China faces a “real and long-term” threat to the lives and property of the Chinese people, and that terrorist attacks had severely damaged national security and social order. A specialized counterterrorism law, the lawmakers were quoted as saying, is imperative in such circumstances.
Currently, China’s provisions on counterterrorism are scattered across various NPC Standing Committee decisions along with the criminal, criminal procedure and emergency response laws. The new draft already had changes to the definition of “terrorism” and a better balance between counterterrorism and human rights protection, but further revisions were recommended on the basis of public opinion.
Demands for a specific Counterterrorism Law grew following recent attacks.
Three people were killed and 39 injured when a vehicle plowed into crowds at Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing on Oct 28, 2013.
In southwest China’s Yunnan province, 29 people were killed and scores were injured in a concerted knife attack at a train station in the capital Kunming on March 1 last year.
On May 22 last year, an assault on a market in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region killed more than 30 people and injured 94 others.
The first draft of the law, submitted for review in October, proposed an counterterrorism agency to coordinate and streamline intelligence gathering