On March 1, just two days before the opening of the second session of China’s Twelfth National People’s Congress (NPC), a deadly terrorist attack took place in China’s southwest Yunnan Province, leaving 29 civilians dead and 143 injured. Following the attack, the Chinese public have been voicing their condemnation of terrorism and urging the formulation of an anti-terrorism law.
NPC deputy Zhu Lieyu, partner of Guangdong Guardian Law Firm, submitted a motion to the ongoing session of the National People’s Congress, calling for a Chinese anti-terrorism law.
According to Zhu, China does not have a specialized law handling terrorism, but only two articles in the Criminal Code dealing with the organizers, participants and sponsors of terrorism, which causes a weakness in combating terrorism. Zhu argued that a specialized anti-terrorism law would enable China to prevent and fight more forcefully against terrorism.
Zhu also pointed out he added a crime in his motion: the dissemination of terrorist thoughts. “Terrorism is different from other crimes. When you harbor the wish to kill someone but you do not act it out, you are not violating the law. But terrorist organizations expand their influence through spreading terrorist thoughts which will have a big impact on the public,” he said.
Zhu said his motion was drafted overnight after the Kunming terrorist attack, and was supported by many other deputies.
On the afternoon of March 10, China’s Supreme People's Court (SPC) and Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) gave work reports to the NPC, in which counter-terrorism was one of the highlights.
“Severely punish the crimes threatening state security and terrorist crimes such as the Kunming March 1 terrorist attack”, the 2014 SPC report read.
“We fought separatism, subversion, and terrorism, and cracked down on crimes threatening state security and terrorist crimes,” the SPP report said, including counter-terrorism for the first time.
NPC Deputy Deng Chuan, Procurator-General of the People’s Procuratorate of Sichuan Province, said this meant that “anti-terrorism will be an important part of guarding state security in the future.”
Deng also said a specialized anti-terrorism law is necessary. “Terrorism is now emerging in China, but we lag behind in terms of laws. A specialized anti-terrorism law will enable us to fight against and punish terrorist crimes more in accordance with the law.”
Zang Tiewei, an official with the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the Standing Committee of the NPC, said in a press conference on March 9 that the Commission would handle the deputies’ motions on formulating anti-terrorism law based on actual needs and legal procedures.