Anti-foreign sanctions law: China is giving as good as it gets
Zhu Zheng


Editor's note: Zhu Zheng is an assistant professor focusing on constitutional law and politics at China University of Political Science and Law. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

At the closing meeting of a session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) on June 10, the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law was adopted. The new statute is said to aim at countering the hegemonism and power politics of some Western countries with some contents that are worth highlighting as follows.

First of all, the new law has once again made it clear some diplomatic stance that has long been embraced by Beijing will be kept and carried on despite more saber-rattling international environment. The law declares in its Articles 2 and 3 that China will resort to the United Nations for dispute resolution, and in addition to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, China strongly opposes hegemony and power politics.

In order to uphold these principles and preserve the international order, China is entitled to employ corresponding retaliatory measures where foreign countries violate international law and basic norms of international relations to constrain or suppress our nation under any kind of pretext or based on the laws of those nations to employ discriminatory measures against Chinese citizens or interfere with China's internal affairs. 

Second, under the new law, China is allowed to target those who participate in the drafting, decision-making or implementation of the discriminatory restrictive measures adumbrated above. The new law has come up with punitive measures such as deportation, freezing assets and banning business operations in China. It is believed that by including a countermeasure list mechanism, the new law has become one of many tools that are now available to Beijing to safeguard its national sovereignty and security in the face of international sanctions.

To put it against a historical context, the new law is the newest follow-up after the Foreign Investment Law of the People's Republic of China (FIL), which comes into effect on January 1, 2020, rolled out a negative list model. Yet different from the 2020 FIL, the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law is more overwhelming. It includes not only steps banning companies harming China's core interest from doing business in China but also measures punishing ill-mannered overseas individuals and companies.



Thirdly, the law provides that it is up to Foreign Affairs or other relevant departments of the State Council to make the punitive decisions. And according to Article 10, the State will set up a new mechanism for coordinating the work of countering foreign sanctions, responsible for the overall coordination of related efforts. While many departments of the State Council, China's Central Government, will be involved in the proceedings, the final decision will be made by the State Council, and the government is to make the decision with finality. 

Some additional points can be made in light of the introduction above. For example, as the anti-sanctions law was announced on Monday night by state media and merely underwent a second deliberation but skipped a third, it was criticized by overseas commentators that there lacks transparency in the process given that a first deliberation was never announced and the law-making process was too rash and therefore unlawful.

However, it should be clarified that according to Article 30 of the PRC Legislation Law, "for bills that are on the agenda of Standing Committee sessions, where a consensus is largely formed, it may be submitted for a vote after two deliberations by Standing Committee sessions". Therefore, the law-making process of the new law is in accordance with the law.

Moreover, the making of the law sends out positive signals that Beijing has increasingly resorted to legal weapons to safeguard its core interests. Compared with economic retaliation during the Trump administration, Beijing is now more willing to use legal tools to oppose Western suppression. As Xinhua news said, the new law is "paying them back in their own coin", the making of the law demonstrates that China is now giving as good as it gets.

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