China adopted a sweeping national security law on Wednesday, saying the new legislation is needed to counter emerging threats to the country.
The new law, which was approved by the parliament’s standing committee, sets an expansive definition of national security, outlawing threats to China’s government, sovereignty, national unity, as well as its economy, society and cyber and space interests, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“China’s national security situation has become increasingly severe,” Zheng Shuna, vice chairwoman of the National People’s Congress’ legislative affairs committee, was quoted as saying after the law’s passage.
Human rights campaigners fear the new law will help security agencies to step up their crackdown on social activists and government critics.
“This law will legitimize the abuse of power by state and public security bureaus,” said Teng Biao, a prominent Chinese lawyer who was detained in the past over his rights activism, and is now a fellow at Harvard Law School.
“For the Communist Party, the rule of law means using legislation as a tool of control,” Teng told the Journal.
Meanwhile, foreign business groups have expressed concerns that the law, along with other proposed measures, may be used to restrict foreign investment from telecommunications, banking and other sectors that Beijing deems sensitive.
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