BEIJING - Between February and April, Chinese authorities arrested 3,551 people for crimes relating to the Covid-19 outbreak, the country's top prosecution body said in its annual report yesterday.
Most of these were crimes involving masks, protective equipment and medical treatment, said the report from the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), which presented the report at a session of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament.
Of those arrested, 2,521 had been prosecuted, the report said, adding that this was the Procuratorate's contribution to controlling the epidemic.
In February, Chinese authorities intensified crackdowns on companies infringing intellectual property rights. This came after unauthorised manufacturers were found putting the 3M labels on face masks that were in high demand.
In April, over 85 per cent of intellectual property infringement cases involved counterfeit or sub-standard masks, the SPP had then said.
Within the same period, another 2,829 people were prosecuted for crimes relating to improper waste disposal or wildlife laws, the report said.
Prosecutors will continue to come down hard on corruption this year, but also focus on those breaking Covid-19-related as well as wildlife laws.
"(We will) standardise the procuratorial work of public interest litigation and actively and safely handle public welfare (cases) in the fields of industry, public health, protection of women's and children's rights, online abuse and poverty alleviation," said SPP Procurator-General Zhang Jun when presenting the report to the NPC.
At the same session, China's top court said it would continue to place more emphasis on intellectual property rights in the coming year and protect both foreign and local businesses.
The lax implementation of IP rights has oft been a bugbear of foreign companies doing business in China.
In presenting the report of the Standing Committee of the NPC, politburo member Li Zhanshu said the body, which will flesh out the details of any law implemented in China, has "extremely onerous tasks" on the legislative agenda.
This includes national security legislation for Hong Kong, which was announced last week.
"We must balance quality and efficiency, endeavour to make our legislation more thoughtfully designed and precisely targeted, and follow through with every piece of legislation put forward," Mr Li said.
Lawmakers are expected to vote on the draft law on Thursday. It will most likely go through.