China Has New A Spy Law — And It's Freaking People Out

Zinger Key Points
  • China revises its counterespionage law, granting greater powers to authorities to enforce it.
  • The broadened definition and expanded enforcement may have a chilling effect on foreign individuals operating in China.

China revised its counterespionage law, expanding the scope of what can be considered a threat to national security and granting authorities greater powers to enforce it.

The move reflects President Xi Jinping's efforts to tighten state control over a wider range of data and digital activities, which has been an ongoing trend during his decade-long tenure, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The revised law targets an increasingly complex and varied array of threats, including those posed by non-state actors and state media.

The expanded scope of the legislation raised concerns among foreign executives, who fear that normal business activities could be considered espionage under the broadened definition.

Think of foreign executives who work in sensitive sectors like tech, finance, defense and energy.

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More than that, the lack of clarity around what can be considered relevant to national security and the possibility of arbitrary enforcement could pose legal risks for academics and businesses seeking to gain insights into China's policies and economy.

The revised law also allows authorities to inspect the facilities and electronic equipment of organizations, as well as the digital devices of individuals suspected of spying.

The changes to the counterespionage law underscore China's growing emphasis on national security and its desire to shield its interests from foreign scrutiny.

The broadened definition of espionage and the expanded powers of enforcement may also have a chilling effect on foreign individuals and businesses operating in the country, who may feel increasingly vulnerable to application of the law.

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Photo: Shutterstock

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