China plans to abolish the death penalty for nine crimes out of the 55 that are punishable by death in the country, state media said on Monday, as the Communist Party of China (CPC) announced broad changes to its legal system.
International rights bodies have long accused China of carrying out the highest number of death penalties in the world. Beijing refuses to reveal the numbers, saying it is a state secret.
On Monday, the CPC leadership introduced a draft amendment to the country's Criminal Law, which outlined the abolition of death penalties for certain crimes.
State media said the topic was among the "heatedly discussed" issues at a meeting of the National People's Congress, China's Parliament, which began in Beijing on Monday.
"According to the draft amendment, the nine crimes include smuggling weapons, ammunition, nuclear materials or counterfeit currency; counterfeiting currency; raising funds by means of fraud; arranging for or forcing another person to engage in prostitution; obstructing a commander or a person on duty from performing his duties; and fabricating rumours to mislead others during wartime," state-run news agency, Xinhua, reported.
The amendment added that after the penalty was removed, those convicted of these crimes will face life imprisonment.
The NPC Standing Committee had earlier dropped the death penalty for 13 economic-related non-violent crimes including smuggling cultural relics, gold and silver; carrying out fraudulent activities related to financial bills; forging or selling forged exclusive value-added tax invoices; teaching criminal methods; and robbing ancient cultural ruins.
Exempting the 13 crimes from the death penalty has not caused negative effects for public security, and the social response to reducing the number of crimes subject to the death penalty has been positive, Li Shishi, director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
China's lawmakers have also proposed changes in the country's counter-espionage and anti-terrorism laws.
The draft anti-terror law proposes the setting up of an anti-terrorism intelligence-gathering centre to coordinate and streamline intelligence-gathering in the field.
"The draft counter-terrorism law aims to improve intelligence gathering and the sharing of information across government bodies and among military, armed police and militia, and enhance international cooperation," Xinhua reported.