Any individuals or groups involved in online or telecom fraud will soon face harsher punishments with the rollout of more stringent measures to protect people's interests, Yang Heqing, spokesman for the National People's Congress Standing Committee's Legislative Affairs Commission, told a news conference on Thursday.
Yang said that harsher penalties have been written into the latest draft version of an anti-telecom and online fraud law, which will be submitted during a session of the Standing Committee of the NPC, China's top legislature, for a second review next week.
In China, a draft, in general, will become a law after being reviewed three times.
"Meting out heavier punishment will make the country's efforts to fight fraud more effective," Yang added.
In the previous version, which was reviewed by the NPC Standing Committee last year, telecommunication, finance and cyberspace service providers were required to improve real-name registration and account management to prevent telecom and online fraud.
According to that version, those who violated the rules would receive warnings, be criticized in a public notice or fined between 10,000 yuan ($1,490) and 100,000 yuan. It added that in serious situations, violators could be fined up to 1 million yuan or be shut down.
When the old version was reviewed in October, a number of legislators said the penalties should be stronger.
For example, Li Wei, from the NPC's Supervisory and Judicial Affairs Committee, said that the current fines for information service providers were too low, "or the punishment wouldn't be a deterrence for fraudsters".
Han Xiaowu, a member of the NPC Standing Committee, agreed. "The current 10,000 yuan for violators in the old version wouldn't contribute to comprehensively and effectively fighting fraud," he said.
He suggested that the threshold of the fine should be increased to 100,000 yuan.
After the old version was disclosed online to solicit public opinion between Oct 23 and Nov 21, it received more than 28,000 suggestions from over 13,000 people.
Many suggestions supported the NPC Standing Committee in devising the law, but advocated more fines for fraudsters, including those selling fraudulent devices.
In recent years, Chinese authorities, especially public security and judicial agencies, have diversified measures and intensified the fight against telecom and online fraud to protect many people from huge financial losses or even the right to life in some cases.
Early this month the Ministry of Public Security released a list of the 12 most wanted telecom gang leaders who remain at large, and encouraged people from all walks of life to report clues or provide information on other fraud-related offenses.
Several other draft laws or draft amendments, such as those targeting monopolies, physical exercise and sports, Yellow River protection and black soil conservation, are also expected to be reviewed during the new legislative session, which will be held in Beijing from June 21 to 24.