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China has drafted its first national law against domestic violence, a move hailed by activists as a step forward in a country where abuse has long been sidelined as a private matter. The new law, published Tuesday, formally defines domestic violence for the first time and also streamlines the process for obtaining restraining orders -- measures that anti-domestic abuse groups have advocated for years. "Over the years, we've many times felt powerless ourselves to help victims," said Hou Zhiming, a veteran women's rights advocate who heads the Maple Women's Psychological Counselling Centre in Beijing. "If this law is actually enacted -- because the issuing of a draft means it will now enter the law-making process -- we will be very pleased," said Hou, whose centre is one of China's longest-running anti-domestic violence organisations.