China's National People's Congress has unanimously passed a new security law it says will "protect people's fundamental interests." Activists and businesses, however, are concerned about a crackdown on civil rights.
China's legislature adopted the bill by a vote of 150 to 0 with one abstention on Wednesday that will enable authorities to "take all necessary" steps to protect territorial sovereignty and take full control over the country's Internet infrastructure.
"China's national security situation has become increasingly severe," senior National People's Congress official Zheng Shuna told the AFP news agency. "We are under dual pressures from both the maintenance of national sovereignty, security and development interests while dealing with the external world and the maintenance of political security and social security, while dealing with internal society."
Protecting 'fundamental interests'
As head of a newly established national security commission, President Xi Jinping said national security covers cultural, political, military and economic issues, as well as technology and the environment.
The law would "protect people's fundamental interests," state news agency Xinhua said in a brief statement.
The new law is one of several policies pushed by Xi's administration that addresses anti-terrorism, cyber security and foreign non-government organizations. The policies have drawn criticism from foreign governments as well as business and activist groups.
Currently visiting France, where he is expected to sign dozens of trade deals, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is also likely to face questions about the new law from French companies concerned about how the legislation will affect their business and intellectual property.
Chinese and US officials met for two days of talks in late June that focused on contentious cyber security issues as well as Chinese construction projects in the South China Sea. American officials haveblamed a hack on US federal employee data on China - it's a charge Beijing has denied.
sms/kms (AFP, Reuters)