China passes anti-foreign sanctions law

Beijing has accused the United States of “suppressing” Chinese firms and issued veiled threats of retaliation after President Joe Biden last week expanded a blacklist of companies Americans are barred from investing in.

FILE: Chinese President Xi Jinping. Picture: AFP.

BEIJING – China passed a new law Thursday to counter foreign sanctions, as it looks to build its defences against rising US and EU pressure over trade and human rights.

Beijing has accused the United States of “suppressing” Chinese firms and issued veiled threats of retaliation after President Joe Biden last week expanded a blacklist of companies Americans are barred from investing in.

Countermeasures in the Chinese law include “refusal to issue visas, denial of entry, deportation… and sealing, seizing, and freezing property of individuals or businesses that adhere to foreign sanctions against Chinese businesses or officials,” according to the text published by the National People’s Congress standing committee, China’s top legislature.

The restrictions can apply to family members of individuals who fall foul of Beijing.

China has long complained about the extra-territorial application of US law through sanctions and restrictions on trade.

Biden has stepped up American criticism of China in recent months over the theft of intellectual property and alleged human rights abuses in Hong Kong and the restive Chinese region of Xinjiang.

Last week, the White House expanded the blacklist of companies Americans are barred from investing in due to their links to Beijing’s military apparatus.

The list of 59 Chinese firms that are off-limits to American investors from August 2 includes major telecoms such as China Mobile, video surveillance firm Hikvision, China Railway Construction Corp, and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

China’s anti-foreign sanctions law also allows the country’s courts to punish companies that comply with foreign laws that damage national interests – putting global firms that follow US sanctions in legal jeopardy.

It also said that businesses or people in China do not need to comply with foreign restrictions.

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