The Truth About Chinas New National Security Law

How Chinas Party Congress Actually Works

The Truth About Chinas New National Security Law

Bailouts Wont Save Sri Lanka. Ending Dynastic Politics Might.

Chinas Changing Disinformation and Propaganda Targeting Taiwan

Is China Breaking With Russia Over Ukraine?

After Queens Passing, Australia Debates How to Move on From Colonial Wrongs

Trial Run for China-Afghan Rail Corridor as SCO Summit Kicks Off

Indonesian Girls Are Under Pressure to Wear the Hijab

Taiwans Greatest Vulnerability Is Its Energy Supply

The Problems With Vietnams Bamboo Diplomacy

The Islamic State vs. Russia in Afghanistan

The Truth About Chinas New National Security Law

Chinas new national security law is vague, but its precisely the kind of legal wallpaper Xi Jinping needs.

The National Peoples Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, Chinas national legislature, announced Wednesday morning that a controversial and broad national security law had passed. The law will go into effect across the Peoples Republic, but will exclude the Special Administration Regions of Hong Kong and Macau. The new law will affect almost every domain of public life in Chinathe laws mandate covers politics, the military, finance, religion, cyberspace, and even ideology and religion. According to Chinese officials, the new law passed in the NPC with 154 votes in favor, none against, and a single abstention.

The national security law is the first of an expected three; the NPC is expected to pass another law regulating foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and another on counterterrorism. The law underlines the centrality of the authority of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) which will lead a  a centralized, efficient and authoritative national security leadership system. According totheSouth China Morning Post, the law stops short of delineating a role for Chinas relatively new National Security Commissionwhich was one of the outcomes of Chinas most recent Third Plenum in November 2013. That Commission is led by Chinese President Xi Jinping who continues to consolidate power within the party and has made countering corruption and domestic terrorism a priority.

Overall, while the national security lawiscertainly broad in its scopeemphasizing that China must defend its national security interests everywhere, including outer space and the polar ice capsits breadth isnt augmented by particular detail about how specifically the Party will move to achieve these ambitious security goals. In fact, most Chinese legal experts see this initial national security law as a more abstract statement of principles, aimed at exhorting all Chinese citizens and agencies to be vigilant about threats to the party, astheNew York Timesput it.

What is notable about the law is that it will effectively grant the National Security Commission, led by Xi, oversight of Chinas national security across a range of domains. Xi already enjoys expansive authority as the President of the PRC, the general secretary of the CCP, the chairman of the Central Military Commission, and as the head of numerous other councils, commissions, and leading groups. Zheng Shuna, deputy director of the NPCs legislative affairs commission, remarked that the law was in part necessitated by Chinas increasingly grim security situation, which was now more complicated than at any other time in history. The Party seems to be coalescing national security authority around Xi as an acknowledgment that centralized authority is both in the best interest of the Party and the country.

Get briefed on the story of the week, and developing stories to watch across the Asia-Pacific.

Beyond this national security law, matters may get a lot worse in Chinaespecially for foreign NGOs and businesses. AsI wrote previously inThe Diplomat, the cybersecurity provisions of the looming counter-terrorism law are particularly chilling to foreign businesses operating in China, particularly technology companies that deal directly with the personal data Chinese citizens. Already,the NPCs national security law calls for all key cyber infrastructurewithin the country to be secure and controllable, which in itself presages a broader crackdown on how digital information exists in the country and how it leaves Chinese borders (cyber sovereignty is very much in voguein Beijing these days). Once the counter-terrorism law is passed, foreign firms in China could find themselves faced with Hobsons choice: give up access to any critical data stored on Chinese soil or leave China altogether. The law regulating foreign NGOs could also have chilling effects on the ability of those organizations to operate effectively within China.

Enjoying this article?Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

The new national security law, while vague and expansive, should also be read in the context of Chinas renewed commitment to establishing rule of law under the party (or rather, rule by law). Xi, for all his consolidated power, wants to have some sort of legal wallpaper as he heads into uncharted waters in Chinas political development: Chinas economy is shifting from an investment-driven to a more mature demand-driven paradigm as growth rates drop;Chinas military is is thinking about its global role as tensions with neighbors growterrorism in China looks like a long-term problem. A vague and all-encompassing national security law gives Xi a broad toolkit to flexibly manage the Partys fortunes and stability as China changes to adapt to a range of contemporary challenges.

Religious Freedom in Uzbekistan: Still Space for Reform

Despite some promising progress, USCIRF Chair Nury Turkel says Uzbekistan continues to severely restrict religious freedoms.

How Chinas Party Congress Actually Works The Truth About Chinas New National Security Law Bailouts Wont Save Sri Lanka. Ending Dynastic Politics Might. Chinas Changing Disinformation and Propaganda Targeting Taiwan Is China Breaking With Ru