China’s Anti-Espionage Law, which took effect on July 1 after being amended, has recently faced misinterpretations and concerns from some Western media outlets. In response, the Ministry of National Security has released a statement emphasizing the transparency and clarity of the law and asserting that it will not hinder legitimate business and investment activities.
The purpose of this law is to combat espionage activities carried out by espionage and intelligence agencies while safeguarding national security in a manner that respects the rule of law and human rights.
Clear provisions and definitions
The Ministry of National Security highlights that the Anti-Espionage Law includes clear provisions on the principles of counterespionage work, the definition of espionage acts, the investigation and handling procedures, and legal supervision. One of the misconceptions raised by foreign media pertains to the definition of “stealing, spying, buying, and illegally providing documents, data, materials, and articles related to national security and interests for foreign organizations, organizations, and individuals other than foreign espionage organizations and their agents.”
The official response clarifies that this definition is targeted at illegal conduct and does not apply to companies and their employees who abide by Chinese law and provide normal commercial services. The definition sets a boundary between illegal and lawful conduct, enhancing the certainty for businesses to lawfully operate in China.
Consistency with international legislation
The Ministry of National Security also points out that the definition of espionage in China’s Anti-Espionage Law aligns with international legislative practices. Many countries consider various acts that are harmful to national security, such as acquisition, collection, reproduction, disclosure, and provision of sensitive information, as espionage. This demonstrates that the law is not a unique or unjustified measure taken by China but rather follows a common international practice to protect national interests.
Business and investment not impacted
The Ministry’s statement strongly asserts that the purpose of amending the Anti-Espionage Law is solely to prevent, stop, and punish espionage activities conducted by espionage and intelligence agencies. The law does not target companies or individuals who lawfully operate, invest, or conduct business in China. As long as companies and their personnel abide by Chinese laws and provide normal commercial services, they need not worry about being affected by the provisions of the Anti-Espionage Law.
The law upholds rule of law and human rights
The Ministry’s statement emphasizes that the Anti-Espionage Law is designed to be in line with the principles of the rule of law and respects and protects the legitimate rights and interests of individuals and organizations. It strikes a balance between safeguarding national security and upholding human rights, ensuring that the law’s enforcement does not infringe upon the rights of law-abiding citizens and businesses.
China’s Anti-Espionage Law, with its transparent provisions and definitions, should not be misconstrued as an impediment to legitimate business and investment activities in China. The law targets espionage activities carried out by espionage and intelligence agencies, and it aligns with common international practices in safeguarding national security.
By clarifying the law’s intentions, the Ministry of National Security aims to alleviate concerns and foster a better understanding of the legislation’s purpose and scope. Businesses and investors operating lawfully in China can continue their operations with confidence, knowing that the law respects the principles of the rule of law and human rights.