Published: 11:01, April 27, 2023 | Updated: 13:10, April 27, 2023
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Anti-espionage law revised to better safeguard national security
By Cao Yin

Amendment clarifies that cyberattackers on State organs will be considered spies

A revision to the Counter-Espionage Law was adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, on Wednesday as it wrapped up its latest session in Beijing.

China has also revised the National Intelligence Law, the Archive Law and the Maritime Traffic Safety Law to better safeguard national security over the past five years, with the formulation of the Biosecurity Law, the Data Security Law, the Cryptography Law, the Land Border Law and the Anti-Organized Crime Law

As the country's first law unveiled in 2014 to implement the overall national security concept, the law has played a large role in countering espionage activities and safeguarding national security, "but considering the need of anti-espionage in the new era and to carry out the concept in the new situation, its amendment is essential", said Wang Aili, an official from NPC Standing Committee's Legislative Affairs Commission.

"The current situation of fighting espionage is grave, as traditional and nontraditional security threats are intertwined, and various types of spies and intelligence activities are more complicated," said Wang, who is head of the commission's criminal law department. "Espionage also involves more extensive fields, more diversified targets and more covert methods."

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He added that the revised law, which will come into effect on July 1, is a strong legal guarantee in the battle against infiltration, subversion and theft of confidential information.

While establishing a coordination work mechanism for counterespionage at a national level, the revised law clarifies that those who carry out cyberattacks on State organs or secret-related departments should be identified as spies.

It also stipulates that espionage organizations and their agencies that instigate or fund others to attack, invade, interfere in, control or destroy critical infrastructure are considered spies.

The revised law requires those working for national security departments to receive political training in a planned manner.

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Before it was submitted to the NPC Standing Committee for a third review on Monday, the draft had been deliberated by lawmakers in August and December. In general, a draft will become law in China after it has been read by the NPC Standing Committee three times.

Earlier, Zang Tiewei, spokesman for the commission, said that amending the law was also to implement the report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China as well as to maintain national sovereignty, security and development interests.

He added that improving the law will help enhance public legal awareness and build a strong defense against behavior that is harming the country.

China has also revised the National Intelligence Law, the Archive Law and the Maritime Traffic Safety Law to better safeguard national security over the past five years, with the formulation of the Biosecurity Law, the Data Security Law, the Cryptography Law, the Land Border Law and the Anti-Organized Crime Law.

caoyin@chinadaily.com.cn