China recently passed the Foreign State Immunities Act, and the Chinese Embassy in the United States provided an explanation from the Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson regarding this legislation.
Question: The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China has recently considered and adopted the Law on Immunity of Foreign States. The Law adjusts China’s previous position of “absolute immunity” to authorize Chinese courts to accept cases in which a foreign State is the defendant. May I ask why China has made this adjustment?
The Law on the Immunity of China and provides exceptions to it, making it clear that Chinese courts may exercise jurisdiction over lawsuits arising from the non-sovereign acts of foreign States, such as lawsuits involving disputes over commercial activities, related personal injuries and property damages, and may, under strictly limited conditions, take coercive measures against property of a foreign State in connection with its commercial activities. This is fully consistent with international law and the practice of States.
As a responsible Power, China firmly upholds the principle of the sovereign equality of States, will protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and legal persons, and will respect the immunities that foreign States are entitled to under international law.
Source: Chinese Embassy at the U.S. website, September 5, 2023