BEIJING -- Lawmakers on Friday voted to adopt a foreign state immunity law as part of the country's efforts to step up legislation in fields related to foreign affairs.
The law, passed at a session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, will take effect on Jan 1, 2024.
The law has 23 provisions and stipulates that China will move away from the absolute theory of foreign state immunity and adopt the restrictive theory of foreign state immunity.
Calling the move a "necessary adjustment" to China's sovereign immunity policy, an official of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee told Xinhua that the new law will help protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and legal persons, and safeguard China's sovereignty, security and development interests.
It will also plug legal loopholes and accelerate the refinement of China's foreign affairs-related legal system, the official said.
The law establishes the general principles of state immunity. "Unless otherwise provided for by this law, foreign states and their property shall be immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of the People's Republic of China," the law reads.
It stipulates the circumstances under which Chinese courts will be permitted to exercise jurisdiction over foreign states and their property. Related provisions are in line with international treaties and norms, the official told Xinhua.
China's foreign state immunity policy upholds the principle of sovereign equality of states, and is distinct in nature from the long-arm jurisdiction practiced by certain countries, the official noted.
The law stipulates a principle of reciprocity in state immunity. "Where the immunity granted by a foreign state to the People's Republic of China and its property is inferior to that provided for by this law, the People's Republic of China may apply the principle of reciprocity," per the law.
Once a foreign state abolishes, restricts or downgrades the immunity it has granted to China, China will have the right to take necessary countermeasures in accordance with the principle of reciprocity, the official told Xinhua.
After the law is enacted, the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions should follow the central people's government in adopting the state immunity rules and policies set out in the law, the official said.