The Chinese government will impose tough penalties on people who make false terrorist threats against airlines and airports to stem a stream of hoax calls which is costing airlines and airports a fortune in stopped and delayed transport.
The China Daily reported on Monday that those convicted of fabricating false rumors of terrorist threats or natural disasters could face up to five years in prison.
Spokesman for the Supreme People's Court, Sun Jungong, told the publication:
"Over the past few years, China has seen many cases of terrorist threats being invented for the purposes of blackmail, taking revenge or just for fun. Such acts have caused panic among the public and disturbed public order."
Chinese airlines and airports received more than 80 false terrorist threats this year, state media said. In May alone, six fake bomb threats were reported nationwide and 22 flights were forced to turn back, land elsewhere or be delayed. Airlines were impacted by the hoaxes, and one fake bomb threat cost Shenzhen Airlines more than 170,000 yuan ($27,700). The prankster was given a jail sentence of four years.
The new laws now in place stipulate that calls which "severely disturb social order" and have "severe consequences" include causing an airport, train station or cinema to be evacuated, disturbing the operation of aircraft, trains or ferries, interrupting activities of schools, hospitals or government offices and causing armed police or fire departments to launch emergency plans.
According to FlightStats.com, only 18.3 percent of flights departing from Beijing left on time in June, and only 28.7 percent of flights leaving Shanghai left as scheduled.
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