China adopted a new law that expands the scope of national security legislation in the world’s most-populous country to cover everything from cybersecurity, food and religion to outer space and the deep sea.
The law replaces existing legislation from 1993, before Internet monitoring, cyber espionage, and food safety became pressing issues for Chinese authorities. The bill seeks to “safeguard national security, defend the people’s democratic dictatorship and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics,” according to a text released today in Beijing.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is overseeing the law as head of a new national security commission, has said the government must safeguard security in politics, culture, the military, the economy, technology and the environment.’’ The law also adds to concerns that China will prevent state-owned enterprises and the military using technology produced by foreign companies.
China is seeking to develop domestic alternatives to replace most foreign technology used by banks, the military, state-owned enterprises and key government agencies by 2020, according to people familiar with the effort.
The bill will advance efforts to build a national cyber-safety net that will complement the domestic-internet controls of the so-called Great Firewall, and aims to safeguard “industries and key areas important to the national economy.”
China is expanding its security net at a time when the U.S. is stepping up pressure on Beijing to stop what American officials say are widespread cyber attacks and theft of trade secrets.
U.S. officials in June accused Chinese hackers of stealing personal records of as many as 4 million government workers. In May, the Justice Department alleged that two Chinese researchers at U.S. companies conspired with officials at a state-run university in China to steal wireless technology and mass produce it back home. China counters that it is the biggest victim of corporate and cyber espionage.
The security law also mentions Hong Kong, which remains a special administrative region that enjoys widespread freedoms denied to residents of the mainland.
While the new law won’t be applied to to Hong Kong, where thousands have demonstrated against China’s perceived encroachment, the city is part of China and should fulfill its obligations to safeguard national security, Zheng Shuna, vice-chairperson of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said at a presentation of the law in Beijing.
— With assistance by Stephen Tan, and Zheng Wu