China signals crackdown on privacy, data, monopolies to continue

China’s leadership announces plans to draft new laws on national security, technology and monopolies.

President Xi Jinping, centre, at a session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Beijing, March 10, 2021 [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/ Reuters]

China’s leadership has unveiled plans to draft new laws on national security, technological innovation and monopolies, as well as in the areas of culture and education.

The Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese State Council publicised the plans late on Wednesday in a five-year plan for “building a law-based government”.

The blueprint, published by the state-run Xinhua news agency, signals that a crackdown on industry with regard to privacy, data management, antitrust, and other issues is likely to continue throughout the year.

President Xi Jinping has made “rule of law governance” a signature of his rule, which will be extended if, as expected, he seeks a third term next year.

Last month, Chinese authorities used a law aimed at responding to foreign sanctions for the first time to sanction former US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross while, last year, they imposed a national security law on Hong Kong, employing legal means to protect interests beyond the mainland border.

The state-owned Global Times said the 2021-2025 plan on “building a rule of law government” is “envisioned to crystallize the relationship between the government, the markets and society”.

It said the party and the government will strengthen and improve China’s antitrust and unfair competition law as “part of efforts to create a fair, transparent and predictable business environment”.

The planned measures will also aim to “promote the building of a high-standard market that is unified, open, fair and orderly”, the tabloid said.

The Reuters news agency said the blueprint also laid out plans to develop laws consistent with new sectors such as the digital economy, internet finance, artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing.

The party and the government pledged to improve the emergency response and revamp legislation around public health by amending the infectious disease law and the “frontier health and quarantine law”, the agency said.

The blueprint also laid out directives for the prevention and resolution of social conflicts and reiterated an order for officials to “nip conflicts in the bud”.

Better legislation for areas including education, race and religion, and biosecurity was also on the cards, it said, while regulations dealing with food and medicine, natural resources, industrial safety production, urban governance, and transport will be strictly enforced.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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