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Homeland Security

China Passes Controversial Anti-terror Law

by VOA News December 27, 2015

China's parliament has passed a controversial anti-terror law requiring foreign technology firms to comply with government requests for information, including encryption keys that turn digital data into unreadable code.

The official Xinhua news agency said the legislation was passed unanimously Sunday by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. The report said the law was intended to address 'terrorism at home and help maintain global world security.'

A draft of the law, which takes effect January 1, came under strong White House criticism early this year, with President Barack Obama warning that encryption mandates would require modifications if Chinese companies wanted to do business in the United States.

There was no immediate comment Sunday on the legislation from the White House, which had also voiced concerns that the Chinese legislation could imperil an array of human rights principles enshrined in Western law.

China has repeatedly rejected such criticism, arguing that it faces an imminent 'terrorist' threat, particularly in the northwest region of Xinjiang with its large community of Muslim Uighurs. Beijing has sought to link Uighurs and their tactics in pursuit of an independent state to extremist groups, including the Taliban and Islamic State.

Sunday, Xinhua quoted senior Public Security Ministry official An Weixing, who defended the legislation in the face of 'rising threats of terrorism.'

He said 'terrorist attacks have caused heavy losses of people's lives and properties, posing a serious threat to our security, stability, economic development and ethnic unity.' He also said the law would allow for 'collaboration with the international community.'

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