On November 3, 2014, the Chinese National People’s Congress released the Draft Amendments IX to the Criminal Law (Draft) for public comment.  Among other things, the Draft proposes amendments to provisions on bribery and personal information in the Criminal Law. 

Currently, offering bribes to state functionaries, enterprise employees, foreign public officials or officials of public international organizations, or state entities could constitute criminal offenses under Chinese law.  The Draft expands the scope of potential criminal liability and introduces a new offense of offering bribes to former state functionaries, close relatives of, or other persons that have close relationships with state functionaries, or former state functionaries.  

Additionally, penalties for offering bribes have been upgraded in the Draft.  The Draft expands those penalties to include mandatory fines for any individual that is convicted of offering bribes, regardless of the circumstances.  In addition, the circumstances in which a bribe-giver may be deemed exempted from punishment have been limited in the Draft.  In order to qualify for an exemption (as provided in the current Criminal Law), bribe-givers should not have committed a major crime and must not only voluntarily confess to their crimes prior to prosecution, but must also provide information that is critical for solving a major case, or perform major meritorious services that assist the state. 

The Draft also contains general language regarding penalties for bribery of state functionaries, which is intended to replace the detailed sentencing standards contained in the current Criminal Law, thereby providing more flexibility for prosecutors and courts.  The Draft also allows the court to order a person convicted of duty-related crimes not to engage in his or her profession for up to five years.

With regard to privacy protection, the Criminal Law currently prohibits specific persons, including employees of state entities and persons in specified industries, from violating relevant regulations and selling or unlawfully providing personal information that they have obtained in the process of providing services.  The Draft expands those prohibitions to all persons.  Furthermore, the Draft adds a paragraph that generally prohibits anyone from selling or unlawfully providing personal information without the owner’s consent.  Potential penalties for violations of these provisions include criminal detention, or up to two or three years’ imprisonment, depending on which paragraph of the law has been violated, and/or a fine.