Author Topic: New Chinese foreign relations law targets businesspeople, journalists  (Read 384 times)

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Offline Elderberry

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Radio Free Asia by Chris Taylor 7/2/2023

It embraces ambiguity to the point it could be used to clamp down on any perceived threat, analysts say.

China has enacted a new foreign relations law that takes a broad view of what constitutes espionage in a move that may make China even harder to safely navigate for foreign journalists and businesspeople.

The law – which came into effect on Saturday – appears to be an effort to provide a legal basis for punishing any individuals or organizations that threaten China’s interests, which may include any moves that suggest “de-risking” or “decoupling,” at least according to state media rhetoric over recent days.

The law has also been interpreted to be a move to provide a legal framework for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s world view, as it embraces two of his signature foreign policy initiatives: The Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative.

Experts concurred roundly that the legislation’s ambiguous language would be open to interpretation on a case-by-case basis and could threaten the activities of foreign journalists and businesspeople in China.

It expands the definition of espionage to constitute accessing “documents, data, materials or items related to national security and interests,” leading Cedric Alviani of Reporters Without Borders to comment that it covered, “basically any type of information.”

The law was approved by the standing committee of the National People’s Congress last Wednesday, just days ahead of the Communist Party’s 102nd founding anniversary, which was on Saturday.

The revisions to China’s counterespionage law first came to light in late April this year, amid raids on foreign businesses in Shanghai and Beijing – notably, U.S. management consultancy firm Bain and Co. and U.S. due diligence company Mintz.

Mao Ning, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said at a news conference: “There is no need to associate the counterespionage law with reporting activities of foreign journalists.