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Chinese legislature to review biosecurity laws

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Chinese legislature to review biosecurity laws

A Chinese wet market
Photo: Adli Wahid

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China will meet to deliberate a new biosecurity bill today in Beijing. Revisions to laws on animal epidemic prevention as well as prevention and control of environment pollution from solid waste will also be discussed.

The biosecurity bill, which was recently submitted for a second reading, includes measures to improve the prevention and control systems for new infectious diseases. While China currently has existing laws governing some areas of prevention and control, the new law would help accelerate cross-agency mobilisation to deal with a potential national crisis.

The new biosecurity law comes in the midst of international criticism of China’s slow initial response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Momentum for a new biosecurity law has been building since March, and lawmakers seem confident that it will be passed. President Xi Jinping has supported the bill, but the centralisation of power in China would allow him to act outside of legislation. Regardless of whether the bill is passed, expect Xi to retain full authority to decide how quickly and openly the government should respond to future outbreaks.

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