China draft bill defines terrorism amid 'real threat'

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25 October 2011   BBC

China is considering new legislation to define terrorism more precisely, in the face of what an official described as a "real threat".

State news agency Xinhua said the draft bill could pave the way for a renewed campaign against terrorist groups and allow their assets to be frozen.

China says it faces an organised terrorist threat from radical Muslims in the far western region of Xinjiang.

Many suspects have been tried under vague laws protecting social order.

Proponents of the new draft bill say it should make it easier to bring terrorism charges.

But critics say it is the Chinese government's economic policies and restrictions on cultural and religious expression which are fostering anger among Xinjiang locals, reports the BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing.

'Public fear'

According to Xinhua, China's criminal law permits jail terms of up to 10 years for those found to have organised, led or actively participated in terrorist organisations.

But the law contains no specific definitions of what constitutes a terrorist, a terrorist act or organisation, it quoted the Vice Minister of Public Security, Yang Huanning, as saying.

This adversely affects "the fight against terrorism, control over terrorist assets, and international anti-terrorism co-operation", it quoted him as saying.

So a draft bill has been submitted by the state council, China's cabinet, for approval by the country's top legislature, the National People's Congress, supplying specific definitions.

"In the draft bill, terrorist acts are defined as those acts which are intended to induce public fear or to coerce state organs or international organisations by means of violence, sabotage, threats or other tactics," Xinhua said.

"These acts cause or aim to cause severe harm to society by causing casualties, bringing about major economic losses, damaging public facilities or disturbing social order.

"Instigating, funding or assisting with other means are also terrorist acts, according to the draft bill," Xinhua reported.

"China is faced with the real threat of terrorist activities, and the struggle with terrorism is long-term, complicated and acute," Mr Yang was quoted as saying.

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China considers new law better defining terrorism

By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) X China said Tuesday that it is considering new legislation to better define terrorism and allow for the public listing of terrorist groups, in an effort to strengthen prosecution against domestic threats and bolster Beijing's role in international cooperation.

A proposal before the national legislature would provide more specific legal definitions for terrorists and terrorist acts based on Chinese and international precedents, making it easier to bring terrorism charges, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The proposal targets those using violence, sabotage or threats in hopes of intimidating or coercing governments or international organizations. Incitement, funding or providing other support would also be considered terrorism.

Terrorist groups would be publicly named and the legislation would strengthen existing rules on seizing their domestic assets.

"Current legislation lacks specific regulations defining terrorism, terrorist organizations and individual terrorists, affecting the fight against terrorism, control over terrorist assets and international anti-terrorism cooperation," Xinhua said, quoting deputy Public Security Minister Yang Huanning.

China says it faces an organized terrorist threat from radical Muslim groups in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, although critics say Chinese economic policies and strict rules over cultural and religious expression are creating anger and resentment among the region's traditional Turkic Uighur (WEE'-gur) ethnic group.

China has been accused of exploiting terrorism fears to justify crackdowns on legitimate dissent, and the U.S. has refused demands to hand over Uighurs captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan and held at Guantanamo Bay. While Beijing has at times accused Tibetan activists of plotting terrorism, opposition to Chinese rule in the Himalayan region has been mainly peaceful.

The proposed legislation is on track to eventually become a new anti-terrorism law, said Li Wei, a counterterrorism expert at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, a think tank affiliated with the government's main intelligence agency, the Ministry of State Security.

That would for the first time provide a comprehensive mechanism for specifically prosecuting terrorism, including defining such crimes and clarifying the roles of anti-terrorism bodies, as well as laying out procedures for seizing terrorist funds, Li said. "How often it is used depends on how often such acts occur, but China will now have a law which deals specifically with terrorist crimes," he said.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said that the ministry was following the drafting of the new law and that China was drawing from the experiences of other countries in dealing with terrorism.

"China will continue to deepen cooperation with regional countries and international organizations to step up contacts and coordination," Jiang said at a daily news briefing.

Most of the government's terrorist accusations focus on groups in Xinjiang, which has been on edge since nearly 200 people were killed in fighting between Uighurs and Han Chinese in 2009 in Urumqi, the regional capital. China accused overseas Uighur activists of orchestrating the violence, but provided no direct evidence.

Violence this year flared anew July 18, when a group of Uighurs stormed a police station in Hotan and took hostages, killing four. Then, on July 30 and 31, Uighurs in Kashgar hijacked a truck, set a restaurant on fire and stabbed people in the street. Authorities said that 14 of the attackers were shot by police in Hotan, and that five assailants were killed in the violence in Kashgar.

China again blamed overseas activists for what it described as organized terrorist attacks, specifically Pakistan-based militants affiliated with al-Qaida. One group, the Turkistan Islamic Party, claimed one of the attackers in Hotan had previously visited one of its training camps.

Associated Press writer Gillian Wong contributed to this report.

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China to legally define terrorist activities

2011-10-24   Xinhua News Agency

BEIJING, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- China's legislature on Monday began reading an anti-terrorism draft bill which is expected to pave the way for further crackdowns on terrorism by defining terrorist acts and organizations.

The bill was submitted to the bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, for review.

Under China's Criminal Law, those found to have organized, led or actively participated in terrorist organizations will face three to 10 years of imprisonment. But the law currently gives no concrete definitions of terrorist acts, terrorist organizations or terrorists.

In his report on the bill to the legislature, Vice Minister of Public Security Yang Huanning said the lack of clear definitions under current law have had direct, adverse effects on China's effort to fight terrorism and bring terrorism-related assets under control, as well as to participate in international cooperation in this regard.

"China is faced with the real threat of terrorist activities, and the struggle with terrorism is long-term, complicated and acute," said Yang.

It is imperative to promote relevant legislation in order to facilitate anti-terrorism operations and safeguard national security and social stability, he added.

A CLEARER DEFINITION

In the draft bill, terrorist acts are defined as those acts which are intended to induce public fear or to coerce state organs or international organizations by means of violence, sabotage, threats or other tactics.

These acts cause or aim to cause severe harm to society by causing casualties, bringing about major economic losses, damaging public facilities or disturbing social order.

Instigating, funding or assisting with other means are also terrorist acts, according to the draft bill.

Terrorist organizations are defined in the draft bill as those which are established to conduct terrorist acts, while terrorists are those who organize, plot and conduct terrorist acts as well as those who are members of terrorist groups.

The draft bill provides that the nation's leading anti-terrorism organ will lead and command the country's anti-terrorism work.

The People's Liberation Army, the People's Armed Police Force and military units will prevent and fight terrorist acts in accordance with laws, administrative regulations, military statutes and the orders of the State Council and the Central Military Commission, according to the draft.

People's courts, people's procuratorates, and state organs of public security, national security and judicial administration should make closely-coordinated efforts in fighting terrorism.

Furthermore, the list of terrorist organizations and terrorists will be made and edited by the nation's leading anti-terrorism organ, and the list will be published by public security authorities under the State Council, according to the draft bill.

FREEZING TERRORISTS' ASSETS

The draft bill provides that the funds and assets of terrorist organizations and terrorists will be frozen when their names are published by public security authorities.

Public security authorities should issue the order to freeze the funds and assets of terrorist organizations and terrorists while publishing their lists of names.

Financial institutions and relevant non-financial institutions should immediately freeze funds and assets found to belong to terrorist organizations and terrorists, and report to relevant government organizations, according to the draft.

Furthermore, the draft provides that methods for verifying the lists of names of terrorist organizations and terrorists will be formulated by the State Council, and the procedure for freezing terrorism-related funds and assets will be drawn up by anti-money-laundering authorities under the State Council together with public security authorities and national security departments.