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Amended postal law finally passed

CHINESE lawmakers yesterday adopted the amended Postal Law after days of a second reading to better protect public freedom and security in using mail services.

The amendment, first deliberated in October during the 5th Session of the 11th National People's Congress Standing Committee, underwent a second review at the 8th session, which concluded yesterday.

The law was originally adopted in December 1986.

Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, said yesterday that the amended law specified regulations on the business scope and charge of the postal service, enhanced supervision over postal and express mail services and improved protection over mailing security and clients' rights.

"It (the law) is of great importance for improving postal services and meeting the needs of people's daily life and social development," he said.

New stipulations include an article forbidding all organizations or individuals from opening, hiding, damaging or discarding others' letters, instead of just preventing postal workers from doing so.

State and public security bureaus and agencies, however, are entitled to check and keep mail and deliveries when investigating crimes, it reads, adding that courier services are obliged to offer clients information if security bureaus found this necessary.

No individual is allowed to spread information that may threaten national security in mail and deliveries, it notes.

With regard to the express mail service, the amendment bans foreign companies from delivering letters within China for security reasons.

Responding to concerns that the article might breach China's commitments to the World Trade Organization, Qiao Xiaoyang of the NPC Law Committee said on Monday that they were consistent as China in 2001 made specific commitments to open express mail services with the exception of "services monopolized by China's postal department according to the law," while the Postal Law stipulated that delivery of letters in China was a monopoly of the postal department.

Qiao said the amendment would not affect the development of foreign business operations in China, nor did it create new barriers for investment and trade.


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