Over the past few years, global tensions have escalated into a series of economic challenges, manifesting through sanctions and counter-sanctions, particularly between major world powers.
China’s Legal Response to International Pressure
In response, China enacted the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law on June 10, 2021, a legal tool that formalizes its stance against foreign pressures and provides a framework for retaliation. This law underscores China’s strategic posture on the international stage and indicates its determination to protect its sovereignty, security, and development interests.
Understanding the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law
The essence of the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law is its comprehensive approach to countering what China perceives as the unjustified extraterritorial application of foreign legislation that adversely affects Chinese citizens and entities.
Discretionary Powers and Countermeasures
The law grants broad discretionary powers to the Chinese government to decide what constitutes an actionable foreign sanction and to implement countermeasures accordingly.
Implications for International Business
For companies and individuals operating in or with China, this creates a complex legal landscape. International firms may now find themselves in a quandary, having to navigate between compliance with their home countries’ sanctions and the risk of retaliatory sanctions under China’s new law.
Lawfare: A Strategic Tool
Additionally, the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law underscores an era of China advocating for “lawfare”—using legal instruments as a means to pursue political and economic ends.
The Signal to Domestic and International Communities
Critically, the law is as much about the signal it sends as the actions it precipitates. It broadcasts to domestic and international audiences China’s readiness to stand firm against what it considers to be bullying tactics.
A New Front in Geopolitical Tensions
In the broader context of international relations, the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law presents yet another front in the ongoing geopolitical tensions.
Reassessing Global Strategies
As nations and businesses confront this new reality, it will be incumbent upon them to reassess their global strategies.
The Interplay of Power, Law, and Economic Interests
The interplay of global power, law, and economic interests has indeed entered a complex, multifaceted phase, deeply influencing the fabric of international trade and diplomacy.
Please proceed with the translation into English
In order to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests, and to protect the lawful rights and interests of citizens and organizations of China, according to the Constitution, this Law is formulated.
The People’s Republic of China adheres to an independent foreign policy of peace and insists on the five principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. It defends the international system with the United Nations at its core and the international order based on international law, and it develops friendly cooperative relations with countries worldwide to promote the building of a community with a shared future for humanity.
The People’s Republic of China opposes hegemonism and power politics and resists any country’s interference in China’s internal affairs under any pretext and by any means.
Should any foreign country violate international law and the basic norms of international relations, using various pretexts or their domestic laws to contain and suppress China, and discriminate against Chinese citizens and organizations with restrictive measures, interfering in China’s internal affairs, China has the right to adopt corresponding countermeasures.
The relevant departments of the State Council may decide to list individuals and organizations that directly or indirectly participate in the development, decision-making, or implementation of discriminatory restrictive measures, referred to in Article 3, on a countermeasure list.
In addition to the individuals and organizations listed according to Article 4, the relevant departments of the State Council may also decide to take countermeasures against the following individuals and organizations:
1. The spouse and direct relatives of an individual listed on the countermeasure list;
2. The senior management or actual controllers of an organization listed on the countermeasure list;
3. Organizations where an individual listed on the countermeasure list serves as a senior manager;
4. Organizations that are controlled by or that have been established or operated with the participation of individuals and organizations listed on the countermeasure list.
The relevant departments of the State Council may, following their respective responsibilities and division of tasks, decide to take one or several of the following measures against the individuals and organizations specified in Articles 4 and 5, depending on the actual situation:
1. Deny visas, deny entry, cancel visas, or deport;
2. Seal up, seize, or freeze movable, immovable, and other types of property within China;
3. Prohibit or restrict organizations and individuals within China from engaging in related transactions, cooperation, and other activities with them;
4. Other necessary measures.
Decisions made by the relevant departments of the State Council according to Articles 4 to 6 shall be final.
If the circumstances that form the basis for taking countermeasures change, the relevant departments of the State Council may suspend, alter, or revoke the relevant countermeasures.
The determination, suspension, alteration, or revocation of a countermeasure list and countermeasures shall be announced through orders issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or other relevant departments of the State Council.
The state establishes a coordination mechanism for anti-foreign sanction work to oversee and coordinate related tasks.
The relevant departments of the State Council shall enhance collaborative efforts and information sharing, and determine and implement countermeasures according to their respective responsibilities and division of tasks.
Organizations and individuals within the territory of China shall comply with countermeasures adopted by the relevant departments of the State Council.
For organizations and individuals that violate the provisions of the preceding paragraph, the relevant departments of the State Council shall deal with them according to law, and restrict or prohibit them from engaging in related activities.
No organization or individual may execute or assist in executing the discriminatory restrictive measures taken by foreign countries against Chinese citizens and organizations.
If an organization or individual violates the provision of the preceding paragraph, infringing upon the lawful rights and interests of Chinese citizens or organizations, the Chinese citizens or organizations may file a lawsuit with the people’s court according to law, demanding cessation of infringement and compensation for losses.
In addition to the countermeasures stipulated in this Law, other necessary countermeasures may be determined by relevant laws, administrative regulations, and departmental rules against actions that endanger China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests.
Any organization or individual who does not execute or cooperate with the implementation of countermeasures shall be held legally responsible following the law.
For actions of foreign countries, organizations, or individuals that implement, assist, or support activities that endanger China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests and require necessary countermeasures, the relevant provisions of this Law shall be referred to for implementation.
This Law shall come into force on the date of its promulgation.
Disclaimer: The regulation of the law in China is translated by GWBMA for reference only. There may be different interpretations of the Chinese version.