Two new laws — one on external relations and the other on building a barrier-free living environment — were adopted by the Standing Committee of the 14th National People's Congress on Wednesday when it wrapped up its latest three-day session.
The Law on Foreign Relations was passed by the Standing Committee of the NPC, China's top legislature, after a second review. The law, which will take effect on Saturday, was first deliberated on by Chinese lawmakers in October.
After the first review, the NPC Standing Committee's Legislative Affairs Commission sent the legal document to central and local government agencies, some colleges and law academies, among others, soliciting their opinions. It was also uploaded online to gather people's suggestions from Dec 30 to Jan 28, Zang Tiewei, spokesman for the commission, said before the second review.
He said that a few NPC deputies and political advisers had called for formulating the law in recent years, as people believed the legislation protects national sovereignty, security and development interests, enhances foreign exchanges, promotes high-level openness and improves the implementation of the Constitution and the rule of law in foreign affairs.
Wang Chao, spokesman for the first session of the 14th NPC, had responded to a question about the law in March, emphasizing that China's core interests allow no infringement and its sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no violation.
"For acts that undermine China's sovereignty, security and development interests, and harm the lawful rights and interests of Chinese nationals, it's both justifiable and necessary to make the law firmly counter such acts," he said.
China has stepped up efforts to upgrade its legal toolkit for meeting challenges and guarding against risks over the past few years. In June 2021, for example, the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law was adopted and it immediately took effect.
On Wednesday, the NPC Standing Committee also passed the country's first specialized law on the construction of a barrier-free living environment, which will take effect on Sept 1.
The law aims to ensure that people with disabilities and the elderly find fairer, efficient and convenient engagements in social activities.
The law, consisting of eight chapters, includes provisions for barrier-free facilities construction and barrier-free social services. It covers clauses such as the government's supervision and legal liabilities in case of violations of the law.
Shi Hong, an official from the NPC Standing Committee's Legislative Affairs Commission, said the enactment of the law is of great importance to protect the rights of the disabled and the elderly, which can further promote the advancement of China's course of human rights.
Data shows that China currently has about 85 million people with disabilities and the population of people age 60 years and above reached 267 million by the end of 2021.
"Improving the construction of a barrier-free environment by eliminating visible and invisible barriers in public facilities, transportation, information communication and social services can help ensure that people with disabilities and the elderly find fairer and efficient engagement in social activities," Shi said.
He added that legal management is the most effective way of protecting human rights and the law on building a barrier-free environment is an important element of the law-based human rights protection system.