Since “foreign spies, intelligence agencies and other hostile forces” have intensified their infiltration and intelligence theft against China through more diverse methods and in broader fields, the regulation clarifies “what, who and how” to guard against foreign espionage, officials from the national security authority said on Monday.
“The regulation is of great significance to improve the legal system in protecting national security by specifying the responsibilities that companies and institutions must bear. It places emphasis on companies and institutions taking precautionary measures against foreign espionage,” Li Wei, an expert on national security and anti-terrorism at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.
According to the new regulation, companies, organisations or social groups on the list shoulder the responsibility to roll out detailed measures against foreign espionage, including arranging their working staff to sign letters of commitment before taking up posts, reporting their activities related to national security, giving education to personnel ahead of their departures abroad, and interviewing personnel after their return to China.
“Staff going on business trips to foreign countries, such as countries of the Five Eyes alliance – the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – have been told to strictly report their travel destinations, agendas, and meetings with foreign personnel, and they must get approval from their direct superiors before the applications are reviewed by the headquarters,” a staff member in charge of foreign affairs at the headquarters of a central state-owned enterprise in Beijing told the daily.
In particular, electrical devices including mobile phones, laptops and USB drives, which usually contain sensitive information, are key objects for intelligence agencies, he said.
Companies are required that their staff involved in sensitive fields or those holding important files to leave their electrical devices at home and bring new ones abroad.
Any companies or institutions within the scope of national defence, diplomacy, economy, finance and high-tech industry should be considered as key fields in terms of possible foreign infiltration, according to Li.
“Cases of Chinese people working in various industries who were wooed by money or intimidated to engage in espionage activities and became pawns of foreign spy intelligence agencies are numerous. Taking preventive measures and avoiding similar incidents that endanger national security is crucial to protecting national security,” Li said.
The new law has been introduced amid increasing friction between the US and China. The two countries are currently at loggerheads over a host of issues as the Biden administration continues the tough China policy initiated by the previous Trump administration targeting Beijing on Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
He also held the first quadrilateral summit of the emerging Quad grouping of the US, Australia, Japan and India.
The US, the European Union, the UK and Canada have imposed coordinated sanctions on China over alleged human rights violations against the Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang which Beijing has denied.
These countries have also taken a united position on China, firming up its control over Hong Kong with its new national security law, subduing the massive pro-democracy agitation in the former British colony.