Foreigners may be arrested and tried under China’s new anti-sanctions law: analysts

2021.06.10

China’s new anti-sanctions law may allow it to arrest and place foreigners on trial even if they are not in the country, analysts have warned.

The law passed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Thursday is China’s newest and most wide-ranging legal tool believed to give authorities the power to impose countermeasures against foreign sanctions.

The law’s passage comes after the United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on 14 mainland Chinese and Hong Kong officials — including Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam — for enacting the national security law in Hong Kong last year.

Although no details of the law have been released, Tam Yiu-chung, a Hong Kong delegate to the NPCSC, revealed that the law included refusal to issue visas, denial of entry, visa cancellation, deportation and freezing of assets.

Under the law, authorities can restrict organizations and individuals in China from conducting business or cooperating with those who are subject to countermeasures, Tam said.

Analysts have suggested that the legislation would provide courts in mainland China with new powers to deny certain foreigners’ entry to China and bar them from doing business in the country, including in Hong Kong and Macao.

The law could allow law enforcement to hunt down foreign suspects overseas, and try them in absentia, they believed.

Although the law represented the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s will against the West, it was expected that when the law was in place, the specific countermeasures would be similar to current ones, Deng Yuwen, a researcher at the China Strategic Analysis Center think tank, told public broadcaster RTHK.

State-run news agency Xinhua revealed some details of the new law when authorities announced the 16-clause draft bill in January this year, including blocking the impact of “improper extraterritorial application” of foreign laws and measures in China, and to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.

The central authorities in Beijing would establish a working mechanism involving the participation of relevant central departments to counter sanctions by foreign countries, reported Xinhua. If any Chinese citizens or legal persons suffered losses due to foreign sanctions, they could file a lawsuit to the court to claim compensation, it said.

Beijing-based independent scholar Wu Qiang had warned in an interview with Apple Daily that if the law was enacted, it would be a “suicidal” move and have “tragic” consequences.

The move reinforced Chinese authorities’ nationalist attitude and refusal to cooperate with the Western society, he explained.

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