New law to 'combat terror, protect rights'

By Xinhua (China Daily) Updated : 2016-02-29

China's top counterterrorism official has pledged to resolutely crack down on terror and protect citizens' rights in accordance with the nation's first counterterrorism law.

Law enforcement officers will also work with other countries to fight terrorist forces abroad, to root out the sources of terror at home, said Liu Yuejin, the Ministry of Public Security's counterterrorism commissioner.

The new law, which took effect in January and covers prevention, detection and punishment, defines "terrorism" as a proposition or activity that - through 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 of realizing political and ideological purposes.

Liu said the definition is based on a Shanghai Cooperation Organization counterterrorism convention and the United Nation's Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism.

The word "proposition" refers to systemic terrorism ideas that are already widespread, he said. "It is to deter and punish circulating ideas; it will not criminalize any unuttered state of mind or unimplemented attempts."

Liu stressed that the legislation focuses on the balance between cracking down on terrorism and protecting citizens' rights. People or organizations identified as being involved in terrorism can ask for a review of such decisions, while any limit to personal and property rights must undergo strict scrutiny and approval, he said.

The law specifically prioritizes the protection of terror victims during emergency response operations, he said.

The counterterrorism official refuted any suggestion the law infringes on copy right or freedom of speech on the Internet, saying that cyberspace has become an important tool for terrorists to organize attacks.

In recent cases, most terrorists were acting under the influence of online materials that spread terrorist thoughts, and some major cases were initiated by overseas terrorists via the Internet, he said. "Strengthening cybersecurity administration and apportioning the responsibility of Internet service providers in anti-terrorist efforts are urgent matters."

The law also stipulates that telecom operators and ISPs should provide technical interfaces and decryption technology to the counterterrorism commission.