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China Passes Controversial Counterterrorism Law

China's parliament has passed a new antiterrorism law that requires technology firms to hand over sensitive information to the government and allows the Chinese military to venture overseas on counterterror operations.

The new law, passed December 27, also restricts the right of media to report on details of terror attacks. It bars media from reporting on details of terror activities that might lead to "imitation" and from showing scenes that are "cruel and inhuman."

The law, which goes into effect January 1, was criticized by Western countries while it was being drafted, particularly over its cyber provisions.

U.S. President Barack Obama and the U.S. State Department objected publicly to the law's requirement that overseas technology firms submit product encryption keys to the Chinese government as a condition for doing business in China.

A key is a way of encoding messages so that two parties using communications software can exchange messages privately without fear of eavesdropping.

Western officials say the provision poses a threat to human rights and freedom of speech by making it easier to crack down on critics of the government.

Chinese officials have said the new antiterrorism law is needed because due to a growing threat from militants and separatists, especially in the western region of Xinjiang, where hundreds have died in violence in the past few years.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa