The newly revised “Counterespionage Law” will come into effect on July 1, 2023. It has expanded the definition of espionage, adding espionage acts of “joining espionage organizations and their agents”, and “network attacks, intrusion, interference, control, destruction and other activities against state organs, secret related units or key Information infrastructure”. At the same time, the scope of protected objects has expanded from “national secrets and intelligence” to “other documents, data, materials, and items related to national security and interests”.
Before the amendment of the “Counterespionage Law” was announced, reports of suspected espionage events had already been hot news, such as some foreign individuals were under arrested, a giant foreign-funded consulting enterprise was raided. These reports brought anxious to foreign personnel. In fact, despite those foreign personnel who has the intention to constitute espionage, the rest foreign personnel could avoid espionage related risks by paying necessary attention in their behaviors in business activities and daily life.
Firstly, foreign personnel should establish anti-espionage awareness and pay attention to the objects, matters, and methods of communication in their business activities. Specifically as follows:
(1) Organize legal training for personnel who may be involved in state secrets, intelligence*, and trade secrets; and establish awareness of identifying and opposing espionage violations.
(2) Sort out the information that enterprises or individuals have access to in accordance with the law, list information that may endanger national security, public interests, or the legitimate rights and interests of other individuals and organizations, and set up information security valves.
(3) When collecting information, for example, when arranging research (market or technology, etc.), it is recommended to manage and supervise the objects, methods, and depth of information of the research.
(4) In business social activities (e.g., industry activities, government activities, etc.), if the other party is a person in a key field or sensitive industry, the foreign personnel should pay attention to the appropriateness of his own disclosure of information or the appropriateness of receiving the other party’s disclosure of information; When receiving a sponsorship invitation, it is recommended to carefully confirm the background, main activities, etc. of the inviting party or sponsor.
(5) When communicating with overseas affiliated companies, in addition to conducting compliance checks on personal information and data outboard transfer, it is recommended to check whether the content involves state secrets or other party’s trade secrets (excluding those that do not violate confidentiality obligations).
Secondly, in daily life, it is recommended to avoid participating in discussions on topics related to politics and sensitive fields. If encountering situations where sensitive topics are being discussed, it is recommended to leave voluntarily.
Finally, China has released laws and regulations regarding the entry and exit of encrypted communication equipment, and it is necessary to avoid carrying illegal communication equipment during entry and exit.
*The “Intelligence” refers to the matters relating to national security and interests, which haven’t been made public or shall not be disclosed according to relevant provisions. (Article 1 of the “Interpretations of the Supreme People’s Court on Several Issues Concerning Application of Law to the Hearing of Cases of Stealing, Spying, Buying or Illegally Providing State Secrets or Intelligence for Overseas Parties”)