Beijing has approved a new counterterrorism law aimed primarily at controlling ethnic unrest domestically. But the law has drawn criticism from foreign governments who argue it violates human rights.
The National People's Congress of China approved its first anti-terrorism law on Sunday, despite international criticism that it threatens freedom of speech and intellectual property.
On the surface, the legislation seems aimed at curbing ethnic violence in the tumultuous Xinjiang region of western China, which is largely Muslim and has experienced heavy crackdowns by Beijing over the years.
But many observers argue it will also impact freedom of speech, as the bill introduces measures meant to tighten political dissent online. Additionally, it introduces provisions that could require tech firms to hand over valuable information to Beijing, something many in the business world see as a violation of intellectual property rights.
A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry assuaged international concerns, saying it will not violate the rights of individuals or companies as long as they are acting within the law.
On Saturday, Beijing drew international criticism for denying a French journalist her credentials after she published a controversial account of the government's policies in Xinjiang.
blc/bk (AFP, AP)