China adopted Anti-Terrorism Bill, 2015; First counter-terrorism law in history

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Who: Anti-Terrorism Bill, 2015
What: Adopted by China
When: 27 December 2015
Why: To address terrorism at home and help maintain world security

China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee, country’s top legislature, on 27 December 2015 approved Anti-Terrorism Bill, 2015 to address terrorism at home and help maintain world security.

It is country’s first counter-terrorism law and will enter into force in January 2016.

Before the passage of the legislation, China did not have an anti-terrorism legislation, though related provisions feature in various NPC Standing Committee decisions, as well as the Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Law and Emergency Response Law.

The law assumed significance as it proposed a slew of institutional measures to contain terrorism and defined terrorism for the first time in the country.

Definition: As per the law, the word terrorism is defined as any proposition or activity — that, by means of violence, sabotage or threat, generates social panic, undermines public security, infringes on personal and property rights, and menaces government organs and international organizations — with the aim to realize certain political and ideological purposes.

The definition had been inspired by a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) counter-terrorism convention, and the UN’s Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism.

Features of Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015

• It will provide legal support to the country’s counter-terrorism activities as well as collaboration with the international society.
• It proposes a national leading organ for counter-terrorism work,which will be in charge of identifying terrorist activities and personnel, and coordinate nationwide anti-terrorist work.

• A national intelligence center will be established to coordinate inter-departmental and trans-regional efforts on counter-terrorism intelligence and information.
• Under the law, telecom operators and internet service providers are required to provide technical support and assistance, including decryption, to police and national security authorities in prevention and investigation of terrorist activities.

Need of Anti-Terrorism Law in China

China has been the victim of terrorism for long emanating from multiple sources. The Xinjiang autonomous region in China’s far west has had a long history of discord between the authorities and the indigenous ethnic Uyghur population.

In one of most deadly cases, 29 people were killed and scores more injured by knife-wielding assailants at a train station in Yunnan’s capital city, Kunming, on 1 March 2014.