China Revamps State Intelligence Law
Citizens Forced To Co-operate With Intelligence
China has revamped its law on the definition of espionage in a bid to further its interests, a move that has sparked fresh fears for both domestic and foreign firms. The updated law, which went into effect July 1, 2023, allows the Chinese government to employ its citizens in espionage operations overseas, particularly in areas of technology.
The law obliges Chinese citizens to cooperate with state intelligence work, making it a matter of national security. It also extends the duties of Chinese firms, requiring them to assist in espionage operations if it is deemed necessary to protect national security. This includes providing information about foreign technology and equipment they use.
The updated law also expands the scope of espionage operations, allowing Beijing to target foreign entities, including companies and individuals, that are considered a threat to China. The revised legislation could significantly increase the risks for foreign firms operating in the country, particularly in the technology sector.
The first indications of the extent of the new law's reach may become apparent through activities such as the increased targeting of foreign entities and a surge in international cyber espionage activities.
With the law stipulating that citizens, companies, and organizations must cooperate with and assist national intelligence efforts, it's expected that the Chinese government may be able to leverage a significant number of domestic resources to advance its intelligence gathering and influence operations.
This move is part of China's broader efforts to enhance its cyber sovereignty initiative. The Cybersecurity Law of 2017, for instance, required foreign firms to store data within China and potentially transfer their technology to Chinese companies. This latest update to the Espionage Law could further reinforce these requirements, putting foreign companies at an even higher risk.
While the updated Espionage Law provides China with a greater legal basis for its intelligence activities, it also raises significant concerns about the potential impact on foreign firms operating within its borders. It will be essential to closely monitor how this law is enforced in the coming months and years.