Wed, May 17, 2017 - Page 6 News List

China quietly releases draft intelligence law

Reuters, BEIJING

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi , left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday.

Photo: AFP

China yesterday quietly released the first public draft of an intelligence law giving authorities powers to monitor suspects, raid premises, and seize vehicles and devices while investigating domestic and foreign individuals and groups.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has overseen a raft of legislation to bolster national security against threats from both within and outside China.

The government gained new powers with a national security law passed in 2014, followed by a raft of measures on counterterrorism, the management of foreign non-governmental bodies and cybersecurity, among other subjects.

A top lawmaking body, the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, yesterday released a draft version of the National Intelligence Law on its Web site, inviting responses from the public until June 14.

“State intelligence work should ... provide support to guard against and dispel state security threats [and] protect major national interests,” the document said, without giving a time frame for passage of the law.

National interests listed in the document include state power, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

Intelligence work needs to be performed both within and outside China, and foreign groups and individuals who damage national security must be investigated, it added.

If passed, the law would give authorities new legal grounds to monitor and investigate foreign and domestic individuals and bodies, in order to protect national security, it said.

The draft showed authorities would also be able to propose customs and border inspections or “quarantines,” as well as “administrative detention” of up to 15 days for those who obstruct their work or leak related state secrets.

The Chinese Ministry of State Security could not be reached for comment.

State media, and the parliament Web site’s home page, made no mention of the draft, unlike two other pieces of legislation also made public yesterday.

China already has broad laws on state secrets and security, but the new law would allow intelligence officials to enter “restricted access areas” and use “technological reconnaissance measures” when required, the document said.

It gave no details of what such areas or measures might be.

Vehicles, communication devices and even real estate, such as buildings, can be used or seized by authorities during intelligence gathering efforts, the document said, adding that the owners should be compensated.

In March, National People’s Congress Standing Committee Chairman Zhang Dejiang (張德江) said the new law would be finalized this year.

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