• REUTERS, AFP-JIJI

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China’s top legislative body passed a new biosecurity law aimed at preventing and managing infectious diseases, the official Xinhua News Agency reported late Saturday.

The National People’s Congress Standing Committee voted to adopt the law on Saturday, according to Xinhua, and it would come into effect on April 15, 2021.

The law would establish systems for biosecurity risk prevention and control, including risk monitoring and early warning, risk investigation and assessment, and information sharing.

It would also have provisions to prevent and respond to specific biosecurity risks, including major emerging infectious diseases, epidemic and sudden outbreaks, and biotechnology research, development and application, reported Xinhua.

China had announced in May that it aimed to fast-track the passing of the biosecurity law by year-end, following the global coronavirus outbreak, which was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

China has managed to nearly stamp out domestic transmissions of the coronavirus following aggressive measures to curb its spread. New infections detected last week in the eastern coastal city of Qingdao however ended China’s run of about two months without reporting a local case.

China’s health commission last reported 13 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for Oct. 17, bringing the mainland’s total number of confirmed cases to 85,672.

Meanwhile, China also passed a new law restricting sensitive exports to protect national security, a move that adds to policy tools it could wield against the U.S. as tensions — especially in technology — continue to rise.

The law, which China’s top legislature passed on Saturday, comes into effect on Dec. 1 and allows Beijing to “take reciprocal measures” against countries that abuse export controls and pose a threat to national security.

Technical data related to items covered will also be subject to export controls, according to the published text of the law.

Beijing’s latest measure gives it more room to hit back in U.S. President Donald Trump’s war on Chinese tech firms, with the White House moving against popular platforms and major companies — including apps TikTok and WeChat, tech giant Huawei and chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.

The new law, “formulated to safeguard national security and interests,” adds to China’s regulatory toolkit which also involves a restriction catalogue of tech exports and an unreliable entity list.

“Where any country or region abuses export control measures to endanger the national security and interests of the People’s Republic of China, (it) may take reciprocal measures,” the law states.

It adds that Chinese authorities will formulate and adjust an export control list of items to be published in a “timely manner”.

Foreign individuals and groups can also be found liable for violating export control rules.

The economic relationship between Beijing and Washington has been roiled by Trump’s unprecedented campaign of tariffs, threats of bans and sanctions on Chinese tech firms.

With Trump facing a tough re-election campaign ahead of polls next month, U.S. officials have described measures against China as national security safeguards — prompting a backlash from Beijing.

In September, China launched a long-expected “unreliable entities list”, widely seen as a weapon to retaliate against the U.S. which has used its own “entity list” to shut Huawei out of the U.S. market.

The month before that, China’s commerce ministry stepped up rules on technologies restricted for export, adding “civilian use” to the list.

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