On July 13, 2023, the State Council of China issued the Regulation on Consular Protection and Assistance, which will take effect on September 1, 2023. The regulation consists of 27 articles, mainly specifying the responsibilities of various parties (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), diplomatic institutions abroad, relevant departments of the State Council, and local governments) in providing consular protection and assistance, including guidance and coordination, safety prevention, and support.
The regulation establishes procedures and standards for providing protection and assistance to Chinese citizens, legal persons, and other organizations abroad whose legitimate rights and interests are infringed upon or who need assistance. (Regulation art. 3, para. 2.)
The MFA will establish a public hotline and online platform, publicize the office addresses and contact information of diplomatic institutions abroad, and handle requests for consular protection and assistance. (Art. 5, para. 1.)
Chinese embassies and consulates are required to provide protection and assistance under the following circumstances:
1. Chinese citizens, legal persons, and other organizations abroad seek assistance due to the infringement of their legitimate rights. (Art. 8.)
2. The host country takes measures against Chinese citizens, legal persons, and other organizations abroad who are suspected of illegal or criminal activities. (Art. 9, para. 1.)
3. Courts in a host country are adjudicating a matter involving Chinese citizens, legal persons, and other organizations. (Art. 10.)
4. Chinese citizens abroad need guardianship but are living without care. (Art. 11, para. 1.)
5. Chinese citizens abroad seek assistance due to difficulties in basic living security. (Art. 12.)
6. Relatives of missing Chinese citizens abroad seek assistance. (Art. 13, para. 1.)
7. Chinese citizens abroad have been injured or killed as a result of accidents, natural disasters, or criminal acts. (Art. 14, para. 1.)
8. The personal or property safety of Chinese citizens, legal persons, and other organizations abroad are threatened due to major emergencies, such as armed conflicts, riots, severe natural disasters, accidents, epidemic outbreaks, and terrorist attacks in the host country. (Art. 15, para. 1.)
The regulation also stipulates that Chinese embassies and consulates, the MFA, the competent cultural and tourism authorities of the State Council, travel agencies engaged in outbound business, and legal persons and other organizations abroad should, as part of the consular protection and assistance methods, establish safety-warning and emergency-response mechanisms and destination security-risk-alert mechanisms, as well as strengthen the promotion of safety-awareness and risk-prevention capabilities of personnel overseas through education and training. (Arts. 18–21.)
If Chinese citizens, legal persons, or other organizations receive special services, such as accommodation, transportation, medical assistance, and other services from third parties during the process of consular protection and assistance, the expenses incurred for such services should be borne by the individuals or organizations themselves. (Art. 26.)
During a policy briefing held on July 14, 2023, officials from relevant departments of the State Council (including the MFA, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism) provided explanations on the promulgation of the regulation. In recent years, an increasing number of Chinese citizens and enterprises have gone abroad, including student groups studying abroad and individuals traveling overseas. With the impetus of the “Belt and Road” initiative, Chinese enterprises are actively engaging in foreign investment. All these factors have elevated the need for consular protection. “The issuance of this regulation will contribute to the legal, institutional, and standardized consular protection efforts and further enhance the level of consular protection work,” the vice minister of foreign affairs said during the policy briefing.
Prepared by Stephanie Sheng, Law Library Intern, under the supervision of Laney Zhang, Foreign Law Specialist
Law Library of Congress, August 30, 2023
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