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China: Amendment Seven to Criminal Law Passed

(Apr. 30, 2009) On February 28, 2009, the Standing Committee of the Eleventh National People's Congress adopted Amendment Seven to the Criminal Law, which entered into effect on the same day. Previously, in August 2008, a draft of Amendment Seven was published on the National People's Congress website to solicit public opinion (hereinafter Draft). (See China: Criminal Law – Draft Amendment of the Criminal Law, WORLD LAW BULLETIN/GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR, Oct. 6, 2008, available at

Fourteen articles of the Criminal Law are revised in the final version of Amendment Seven. Compared to the Draft, the major changes made in the Amendment Seven are as follows:

Illegal business operations (art. 225): A new paragraph is inserted to replace the original paragraph three, making illegally engaging in securities, futures, or insurance business without government approval, or illegally engaging in fund payment and settlement business, illegal business operations subject to criminal punishments set forth therein.

Computer crime (art. 285): Two new paragraphs are inserted to criminalize computer hackers. The new second paragraph prescribes the punishments for intrusion into computer information systems in addition to those systems already set forth in paragraph one, including a maximum of seven years of fixed-term imprisonment and a fine if the circumstances are “exceptionally serious.” A new paragraph three prescribes the same penalties for offenders who provide tools to assist in the intrusion.

Tax evasion (art. 201): Under the draft revision of this provision, criminal punishment of just a fine could be imposed for offenses of tax evasion. Under the final Amendment Seven, a fine can only be imposed along with other penalties.

Multi-level marketing (art. 224): The Draft inserted a new provision to criminalize organizing or leading multi-level marketing (or direct selling) activities; the final Amendment Seven provides in addition a detailed definition of the offense and heavier punishments.

Kidnapping (art. 239): The Draft inserted language in the provision on the crime of kidnapping when the circumstances are less serious, prescribing the punishment of fixed-term imprisonment of three to ten years and a fine; the final Amendment Seven raised the punishment to fixed-term imprisonment of five to ten years and a fine.

Misappropriation of personal information (art. 253): The Draft added a provision imposing criminal liability on government agency personnel and personnel in financial, telecommunications, transportation, educational, and medical institutions who misappropriate personal information during the course of performing their duties. The final Amendment Seven adds a new paragraph, making the units (the government agencies and the enterprises) and supervising persons within the units liable for such misappropriation conducted by the units.

(Xing Fa Xiuzheng An (Qi) Cao'an quanwen ji shuoming [Complete text and explanation of Draft Amendment (Seven) of the Criminal Law] [in Chinese], National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China (PRC) website, Aug. 29, 2008, available at; text of Amendment Seven [in Chinese], Central People's Government of the PRC official website, Feb. 28, 2009, available at; Amendment Seven to the Criminal Law of the PRC [in English], iSinolaw online subscription database, Ref. ID 76611;77270 -10050057) (last visited Apr. 9, 2009).)