Xi Jinping urges China to arm itself with stronger laws and better lawyers for ‘international struggle’
- President says country should move faster on legislation relating to foreign matters, particularly around sanctions and interference
- He also calls for efforts to ensure lawyers ‘voluntarily support the Communist Party and our socialist legal system’
President Xi Jinping has urged China to speed up legislation related to foreign matters, with a priority on “urgent” areas including sanctions and interference.
“We must use legal means to conduct international struggle,” Xi said in an article published on Tuesday in Qiushi, the Communist Party’s main theoretical journal.
“[We] must follow the rule of prioritising the most urgent tasks, strengthen legislation related to external matters and further complete laws and regulations against sanctions, interference and long-arm jurisdiction.”
The article was an edited version of remarks Xi made on December 6 at a study session with the Politburo, the top 25 members of the party’s ruling elite.
The area of law had increasingly become a focal point of international competition, he said.
“Internationally, the world has entered a turbulent period of reformation, and international competition is taking place more and more in the form of competition of institutions, rules and laws,” he said.
In the article, Xi also called for incorporating legal cooperation into bilateral ties, to “expand the security chain” to protect China’s overseas interests.
He called for better training of talent to address external-related legal matters.
Xi’s call came amid heightened tensions between China and the US, as the two countries increasingly resort to legal means such as sanctions to confront each other on geopolitical and economic fronts and over values.
Citing its Magnitsky Act, Washington in recent years has imposed sanctions on more than a dozen Chinese officials for Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang and Hong Kong over alleged human rights abuses.
Chen Quanguo, who was until December Xinjiang’s party chief and remains a Politburo member, is the most senior official of those sanctioned.
In December, US President Joe Biden signed the Uygur Forced Labour Prevention Act into law, banning imports from Xinjiang.
While China has also exchanged sanctions with Washington, Brussels and London, it has lagged behind in its legal toolbox. Beijing passed its first sanctions-related law as late as last June.
The law formally allows Beijing to take countermeasures against foreign individuals and entities involved in discriminatory measures that “violate international laws and basic norms”.
Steps available include denying visas and deporting culprits, as well as freezing an individual’s assets, according to the law.
Chinese policy advisers have in recent years openly called for improved legal training and efforts to protect China’s growing maritime, space, polar and hi-tech interests.
They have also pointed to insufficient legal support for overseas projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s global infrastructure investment scheme.
In the article, Xi called for more legislative efforts domestically in non-conventional areas, including the digital economy, e-finance, artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing.
The president also sought efforts to ensure stronger political loyalty among China’s lawyers.
“[We] must strengthen political guidance for lawyers, lead them to voluntarily support the Communist Party of China and our socialist legal system, and strive to become lawyers that both the party and the people are satisfied with,” he said.
Author: Jun Mai, SCMP