China's New Anti-Espionage Law Spooking Foreign Firms

(MENAFN- Asia Times) Earlier this year, China updated its anti-espionage law amid an intensifying rivalry with the US and growing distrust of the Western-led international order.

The law broadens the scope beyond what it originally sought to prohibit – leaks of state secrets and intelligence – to include any“documents, data, materials, or items related to national security and interests.”

The law also empowers authorities with new surveillance powers. These include the ability to access people's emails or social media accounts on electronic devices.

The Chinese government is clearly using the new catch-all provision to cast a wider net to identify“spies.” It is targeting not only Westerners working in China, but also Chinese nationals who work for foreign companies or organizations or interact with foreigners in any way.

The law is more than just theoretical – it has teeth. Last month, a new national campaign was launched with rewards of up to 500,000 renminbi (US$68,400) for anyone reporting suspicious individuals or suspected espionage activities.

Red banners have started appearing on Chinese streets, proclaiming

Posters with a hotline number for reporting suspicious individuals can now be found on public transport, as well.

Hotline number for reporting suspicious activities. Author provided

These visible signs serve as reminders that spies could be anywhere, potentially feeding sensitive information to foreign entities that pose threats to China's national security and interests.

Implications of the new law

The new law has sent a chill through multinational corporations, Chinese companies and other organisations.


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