China's President Xi Jinping Photograph:( Reuters )
The new law is China's most wide-ranging legal tool which it can use to retaliate against foreign sanctions
China on Thursday passed a law which may become its weapon in countering foreign sanctions in future. China is currently facing pressure from the United States and the European Union over trade, technology, Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
As per the law Individuals or entities involved in making or implementing discriminatory measures against Chinese citizens or entities could be put on an anti-sanctions list by a "relevant department" in the Chinese government.
Those who are in the list may be denied entry into China or be expelled from China. Their assets within China may be seized or frozen. They could be restricted from doing business with entities or people within China.
The new law is China's most wide-ranging legal tool which it can use to retaliate against foreign sanctions. The law is intended to give China's retaliatory measures more legitimacy and predictability.
Foreign companies, however, worry about the dampening impact it might have on foreign investment.
China's top legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC) standing committee passed the law on Thursday, according to state television CCTV.
All 14 vice-chairpersons of the committee are under U.S. sanctions for passing the National Security Law last year that critics say has crippled political freedoms in Hong Kong. Beijing says it was needed to restore stability in the city.
President Xi Jinping called last November for the ruling Communist Party to use legal means to defend China's sovereignty, security and interests against foreign parties.
The NPC said in its annual work report in March that it wants to "upgrade our legal toolbox" to address the risks from foreign sanctions and interference.
In January, the commerce ministry announced mechanisms to assess if foreign restrictions on Chinese trade and business activities were justified, and for Chinese individuals or companies to sue for compensation in a Chinese court.
The United States and its allies have increasingly sanctioned Chinese officials to express concern about how China treats its Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang and pro-democracy activities in Hong Kong, triggering counter-sanctions by China on U.S. and EU politicians and officials.
Washington has also targeted Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran or North Korea, an act China called "long-arm jurisdiction".
(With inputs from agencies)