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China Enacts the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law

Xu Huang, Sophia Tang
Wuhan University Institute of International Law

1. Background
On 10 June 2021, China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (hereinafter “NPC”) issued “Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law of the People’s Republic of China” (hereinafter “CAFSL”), which entered into force on the date of the promulgation. This is a reaction in response to the current tension between China and some western countries, in particular, the US and the EU that have imposed a series of sanctions on Chinese officials and entities. For example, in August 2020, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on 11 individuals for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and restricting the freedom of expression or assembly of the citizens of Hong Kong. In June 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 14032 to amend the ban on US persons purchasing securities of certain Chinese companies. In March 2021, the EU imposed unilateral sanctions on relevant Chinese individuals and entity, based on the human rights issues in Xinjiang. China has responded by imposing counter sanctions, which were issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as administrative orders. The Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law provides the legal basis for China’s further action and counter measures. This law was enacted after only two readings rather than the normal three demonstrating China’s urgent need to defend itself against a growing risk of foreign hostile measures.