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New security moves up for discussion

China | May 17, 2017
China has 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.

President Xi Jinping 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 measures on counter- terrorism, the management of foreign non-government bodies and cyber security, among other subjects.

Yesterday the standing committee of the National People's Congress released a draft version of the National Intelligence Law on its website, 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 will give authorities new legal grounds to monitor and investigate foreign and domestic individuals and bodies, in order to protect national security.

The draft showed authorities will also be able to propose

customs and border inspections or "quarantines," as well as detention of up to 15 days for those who obstruct their work, or leak related state secrets.

State media, and the parliament website's own home page, made no mention of the draft.

China already has broad laws on state secrets and security but the new law will 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, it said, adding that the owners should be compensated.

It also allows intelligence operatives to "set up relevant sites, equipment or facilities," if necessary.

Western governments have spoken out against China's security measures for defining its national interests too broadly, and have warned they could be used to target dissent. China says the laws are appropriate for its national security concerns.

REUTERS



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