China's top diplomat says new law to counter foreign 'bullying'

By AFP   June 29, 2023 | 02:05 am PT
China's top diplomat says new law to counter foreign 'bullying'
China's Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi attends a meeting with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, February 22, 2023. Alexander Nemenov/Pool via Reuters
China's top diplomat said Thursday a new foreign relations law would help counter "bullying" from abroad after Beijing approved legislation it said would enhance its powers to counter sanctions.

The United States has imposed sanctions on a lengthy list of Chinese companies and individuals, accusing them of complicity in human rights abuses that Beijing has strenuously denied.

The sanctions - particularly those restricting access to critical technology needed for semiconductors - have hit some Chinese firms hard, forcing them to slash jobs and freeze expansion plans.

China's top legislature passed the Law on Foreign Relations on Wednesday, which defines the main principles and positions of Beijing's international diplomacy and will come into effect on July 1.

The law "clearly shows our opposition to hegemony, power politics... and bullying", China's top diplomat Wang Yi wrote in an article published in state media Thursday.

It is "an important measure to strengthen the Communist Party Central Committee's centralized and unified leadership over foreign affairs", Wang, a former foreign minister, wrote in the party-run People's Daily newspaper.

It will also "provide China with a legal basis for exercising legitimate powers against sanctions and interference", he added.

"Facing severe challenges, we must maintain our strategic capacity... and deftly use the weapon of rule of law to continuously enrich and improve our legal 'toolkit' in struggles with overseas (powers)," Wang said.

Moritz Rudolf, a research scholar and fellow at Yale Law School, told AFP that fending off foreign sanctions was "just one aspect" of a law that gives Beijing broad room for interpretation on how to apply international treaties domestically.

"The law may be used to defend a political position, when (China) does not implement an international treaty in the name of its sovereignty, national security or public interests," he said.

The legislation also sets the stage for Beijing to eventually apply domestic laws beyond its borders, Rudolf said.

Tensions between China and the United States have soared, with both President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump calling Beijing the most serious threat to long-term U.S. global primacy.

Biden has largely followed Trump's approach in slapping a flurry of sanctions on Chinese entities deemed guilty of abuses.

Beijing has decried the moves as illegitimate and responded with its own penalties targeting American businesses and politicians.

China's foreign ministry said on Thursday the new law "fully demonstrates China's determination and responsibility to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty."

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