China Drafts Major Changes to State Secrets Law: State Employees Banned from Traveling Overseas

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China is preparing to make significant changes to its state secrets law, in a move that includes prohibiting state employees with access to state secrets from traveling abroad without prior approval. The proposed amendments, the first in a decade, are expected to be passed after a second reading. The revision comes amid an ongoing intelligence battle between Beijing and the United States and its allies.

The amendments to the ‘Law on Guarding State Secrets’ would not only apply to current state employees but also to former staff and retirees. However, there is currently no clear definition of who is considered an employee, leading to calls for more clarity from citizens and international business groups. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China highlighted the importance of clarity on what constitutes a state secret for businesses to understand China’s boundaries related to national security.

Some individuals, such as Beijing-based criminal lawyer He Zhiwei, expressed concerns that the lack of clarity might lead to arbitrary classification of scenarios as state secrets, potentially violating people’s rights. According to China’s official news agency, the country had 7.16 million civil servants in 2016, but the total number of people employed by the state, including state-owned enterprises and public institutions, is estimated to be around 31 million.

Under the proposed changes, the National Administration of State Secret Protection will receive enhanced powers to investigate cases linked to state secrets. This includes the authority to review all files, question personnel, and confiscate devices and files connected to state secrets. Additionally, public education on safeguarding state secrets will become part of the national system, and all levels of government will be required to allocate funds in their annual budgets for information confidentiality.

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Despite concerns raised, the Ministry of State Security dismissed criticisms of the revisions and emphasized that China’s anti-spying law protects suspects’ human rights. The ministry stated that the law clearly outlines the process for investigating state security cases.

These changes in China’s state secrets law come at a time of escalating tensions between the United States and China in the realm of espionage and intelligence gathering. Both countries are actively involved in developing their artificial intelligence capabilities, which they view as crucial for enhancing their respective spy agencies.

President Xi Jinping has previously emphasized that China faces more complex security concerns and urged officials to be prepared for worst-case scenarios. Chen Yixin, the State Security Minister, has also called for stronger national security measures and a crackdown on the theft of state secrets, citing risks arising from an increasingly unpredictable global environment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Related to the Above News

What changes are being made to China's state secrets law?

China is preparing to make significant changes to its state secrets law, including prohibiting state employees with access to state secrets from traveling abroad without prior approval. The proposed amendments also aim to enhance the powers of the National Administration of State Secret Protection and require public education on safeguarding state secrets.

Who does the revised law apply to?

The revised law would apply to current state employees, former staff, and retirees. However, there is currently no clear definition of who is considered an employee, leading to calls for more clarity from citizens and international business groups.

Why is clarity on what constitutes a state secret important for businesses?

Clarity on what constitutes a state secret is important for businesses to understand China's boundaries related to national security. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China has highlighted the need for clarity to ensure that businesses do not unintentionally violate the law.

What concerns have been raised regarding the lack of clarity in the law?

Some individuals have expressed concerns that the lack of clarity in the law may lead to arbitrary classification of scenarios as state secrets, potentially violating people's rights.

What powers will the National Administration of State Secret Protection have under the proposed changes?

Under the proposed changes, the National Administration of State Secret Protection will have enhanced powers to investigate cases linked to state secrets. This includes the authority to review all files, question personnel, and confiscate devices and files connected to state secrets.

How will the revisions impact public education on safeguarding state secrets?

The revisions will make public education on safeguarding state secrets part of the national system. Additionally, all levels of government will be required to allocate funds in their annual budgets for information confidentiality.

How does the Ministry of State Security respond to criticisms of the revisions?

The Ministry of State Security dismisses criticisms of the revisions and emphasizes that China's anti-spying law protects suspects' human rights. They state that the law clearly outlines the process for investigating state security cases.

What is the context behind these changes in the state secrets law?

These changes come at a time of escalating tensions between the United States and China in the realm of espionage and intelligence gathering. Both countries are actively involved in developing their artificial intelligence capabilities, which they view as crucial for enhancing their respective spy agencies. President Xi Jinping has emphasized the need for stronger national security measures, and the State Security Minister has called for a crackdown on the theft of state secrets.

Please note that the FAQs provided on this page are based on the news article published. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is always recommended to consult relevant authorities or professionals before making any decisions or taking action based on the FAQs or the news article.

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