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In Face of Overseas Opposition, China Adopts Cyber Security Laws

In Face of Overseas Opposition, China Adopts Cyber Security Laws
While triggering concerns among foreign business and rights groups, a controversial cyber security law to counter what Beijing says are growing threats such as hacking and terrorism, was adopted by China on Monday.
A Chinese parliament official said that the legislation is an "objective need" of China as a major internet power while the China's largely rubber-stamp parliament passed it and set to take effect in June 2017.
The law v and overseas critics of the law say it threatens to shut foreign technology companies out of various sectors deemed "critical". Known outside China as the Great Firewall, the Chinese internet is already subject to the world's most sophisticated online censorship mechanism and rights advocates also say the law will enhance restrictions on China's Internet.
The Internet was already deeply linked to China's national security and development, said Yang Heqing, an official on the National People's Congress standing committee.
"China is an internet power, and as one of the countries that faces the greatest internet security risks, urgently needs to establish and perfect network security legal systems," he told reporters at the close of a bimonthly legislative meeting.
Urging Beijing to amend what they said were controversial sections of the law was a petition filed to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in August by more than 40 global business groups. It would not interfere with foreign business interests, Chinese officials have said.
Contentious provisions such as providing unspecified "technical support" to security agencies, passing national security reviews requirements for "critical information infrastructure operators" to store personal information and important business data in China, remained in the final draft issued by the parliament.
Companies now fear that they might need to open back doors within products in order to operate in China's market or they would have to hand over intellectual property due to the new law.
The provisions were called "vague, ambiguous, and subject to broad interpretation by regulatory authorities" by James Zimmerman, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China.
Online freedom would be further restricted by elements of the law, such as criminalizing the use of the Internet to "damage national unity", said Human Rights Watch.
"Despite widespread international concern from corporations and rights advocates for more than a year, Chinese authorities pressed ahead with this restrictive law without making meaningful changes," Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch, said in an emailed statement.
Every article in the law accorded with rules of international trade, and China would not close the door on foreign companies, said Zhao Zeliang, director of the Cyberspace Administration of China's cyber security coordination bureau.
"They believe that [phrases such as] secure and independent control, secure and reliable, that these are signs of trade protectionism. That they are synonymous. This is a kind of misunderstanding, a kind of prejudice," Zhao said.
The law was similar to other countries' rules and did not distinguish between foreign and Chinese companies, said China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang at a regular press briefing.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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