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Monday, July 22, 2024

China expands anti-espionage law to target foreign entities and individuals

China has approved a sweeping expansion of its anti-espionage law, giving it more power to monitor, investigate and punish foreign entities and individuals suspected of engaging in espionage activities.

The revised law, which was passed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Friday, defines espionage as any act that endangers China’s national security, sovereignty, territorial integrity or development interests by obtaining, delivering or using state secrets or intelligence.

The law also broadens the scope of espionage activities to include not only those carried out by foreign countries, but also by foreign organizations and individuals, as well as those who collaborate with them.

According to the law, anyone who engages in espionage or assists others in doing so will face criminal penalties ranging from three years to life imprisonment, depending on the severity of the case. The law also allows the authorities to confiscate the property and assets of those involved in espionage.

The law also grants more authority to China’s national security organs, which are responsible for preventing and combating espionage. They can take measures such as surveillance, inspection, interrogation, detention and expulsion against suspected spies and their associates. They can also order relevant organizations and individuals to provide information, materials and assistance related to espionage cases.

The law also stipulates that any organization or individual in China has the obligation to report any espionage activity they discover or suspect to the national security organs, and cooperate with their investigations. Those who fail to do so will face legal consequences.

The law also calls for strengthening public education and awareness on national security and anti-espionage, and encourages the public to participate in anti-espionage activities.

The law comes amid rising tensions between China and some Western countries, especially the United States, over issues such as trade, human rights, technology and regional security. China has accused some foreign forces of interfering in its internal affairs and undermining its national interests.

The law is expected to provide a legal basis for China to counter what it perceives as foreign espionage threats and safeguard its national security. However, some critics have expressed concerns that the law could be used to suppress dissent and target civil society groups, journalists, academics and others who have contacts with foreign entities or express views that differ from the official stance.

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