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China targets foreign spies and ‘hostile forces’ with new anti-espionage rules

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Announcing the new regulations on Monday, the state news agency Xinhua quoted a senior State Security official said that “foreign intelligence and espionage agencies and hostile forces have intensified infiltration into China and expanded their tactics to steal various secrets. ways and in more fields, which poses a serious threat to China’s national security and interests. ”
The regulations create new responsibilities for a large number of agencies, including “social groups, companies, and public institutions,” to monitor and prevent foreign espionage activity.

Once designated by the Ministry as responsible for anti-espionage work, entities must seek and train staff, especially before any trip abroad, after which they must be informed of any national security issues, essentially treating a wide range of bodies, potentially including universities and private companies, as if they were sensitive government agencies.

“It emphasizes that companies and institutions take precautionary measures against foreign espionage,” said Li Wei, an expert on national security and counterterrorism at the Institute of Contemporary International Relations of China. he told the state-run Global Times, adding: “there are numerous cases of Chinese working in various industries who were hidden by money or intimidated to engage in espionage activities and became pawns of foreign spy agencies.”
A graph published by state media earlier this month he warned that spies could target everyone, from government employees to college students to “active young Internet users,” inciting “defection” by using money, friendship or “beauty.”
The new regulations come as the Communist Party prepares to commemorate its 100th anniversary on July 1 and after China celebrated its sixth National Security Education Day earlier this month, during which the organs of the party and government held workshops on how to protect themselves from foreign espionage while Hong Kong police riot police teddy bears stepped on and handed out goosebumps to encourage children to commit to national security.
However, what constitutes espionage in China can be very broad. Global Times highlighted the case of a journalism student working for a “major Western media”, during which “they hired more than 20 hostile foreign groups and more than a dozen officials from a Western country” providing evidence “that could be used to stigmatize China”.
So have foreigners accused of crimes related to espionage, including Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who last month he was tried after more than two years in detention. They have been detained since 2018, following the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese technology giant Huawei, over allegations that the company violated US sanctions on Iran. Meng has remained in Canada ever since, awaiting possible extradition to the United States.

Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat working for the International Crisis Group (ICG), is accused by Chinese authorities of “stealing sensitive information and intelligence through contacts in China since 2017,” while Spavor, an established businessman in Beijing with a focus on North Korea is accused of providing intelligence to Kovrig.

Another foreigner, American businessman Kai Li, is also currently detained in China. It was him secretly tried in 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly providing Chinese state secrets to the FBI. His family maintains that Li’s normal commercial actions have been “severely characterized by the Chinese authorities as espionage for political leverage.”
However, China does not express concern about foreign espionage amid worsening ties between Washington and Beijing. In an annual report published last month, U.S. intelligence agencies said China’s push toward “global power” was the biggest threat to the United States, followed by Russia, Iran and North Korea.

While there are few details about Beijing’s alleged espionage activities, the report warns that the Communist Party “will continue government-wide efforts to spread China’s influence, undermine U.S. influence, push wedges.” between Washington and its allies and partners and to promote new international norms that favor the Chinese authoritarian system. ”

U.S. prosecutors have done so in recent years accused several people of spying for China, more often when it comes to stealing intellectual and trade secrets. During the Trump administration, officials warned that they could be Chinese students and businessmen backed by Beijing to steal secrets, a stance criticized by many observers for promoting racial profiling.
“The Chinese government is famous for its aggressive use of surveillance,” a joint letter of more than a dozen education and freedom of expression groups. “The United States’ efforts to defend itself from the global arm of autocracy must not mimic its own tactics of professing rejection.”

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