China Updates Emergency Law Mandating Timely Information Release

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China's highest legislative body approved a revision to its emergency management law on Friday, emphasizing the necessity for prompt dissemination of information during crises and setting rigorous standards for media coverage. This updated legislation aims to enhance transparency and public awareness in times of emergency.

The amended law mandates the establishment of a comprehensive information release mechanism for emergencies, obliging relevant government authorities to expeditiously disclose pertinent details, including decisions, orders, and measures taken in response to emergencies, to the general public. In cases where misinformation or partial truths circulate, the law requires the immediate issuance of accurate information to rectify any misconceptions.

Furthermore, the law introduces a protocol for news reporting and encourages media engagement through interviews, reporting, and public oversight. It underscores that media coverage of emergencies should adhere to principles of timeliness, accuracy, objectivity, and fairness.

Reporting on emergencies must be submitted without delay and must reflect the truth objectively. The law explicitly prohibits officials from delaying, misrepresenting, concealing, or withholding information, or instructing others to do so. It also forbids any interference with the reporting process.

To bolster emergency support systems, the revised law delineates procedures for emergency response and introduces a framework for emergency supplies stockpiling. County-level and higher local governments are authorized to enter into agreements with qualified enterprises for the production and provision of emergency relief materials.

The law emphasizes the involvement of diverse societal sectors in emergency response efforts. It proposes the creation of an expert advisory system for emergencies and supports the engagement of organizations like the Red Cross, charitable foundations, volunteer groups, and individual volunteers. It also encourages individuals, legal entities, and other organizations to maintain basic emergency self-help supplies and necessities. Village committees and other grassroots organizations are tasked with organizing immediate self-rescue and mutual assistance activities in the event of emergencies.    

The original emergency response law, enacted in 2007, has been instrumental in mitigating emergencies and their consequences, safeguarding public safety and property, and upholding national security, public safety, environmental integrity, and social stability.

The updated law, which will come into force on November 1, was adopted by the Standing Committee of the 14th National People's Congress. Additionally, the legislative session approved amendments to the frontier health and quarantine law, enhancing measures for the ongoing prevention of infectious disease cross-border spread and reinforcing protections for business secrets and personal data involved in national health quarantine procedures.