In 2014, the content of China’s former National Security Law was largely imported into a new Counter-Espionage Law, making space for the National Security Law to be retooled to reflect China’s current, much more expansive, “holistic conception of national security”. Further revisions to the Counter-espionage Law have now been proposed, incorporating provisions from the subsequent authority on counter-espionage work and other Laws.
In 2017, detailed implementation rules were released for the Counter-Espionage Law, more clearly defining terms and expanding the scope of some provisions. The implementation rules are important for understanding the new draft revisions not only because some of their language has been directly adopted, but also because many of their provisions will remain effective and reflect the correct understanding of provisions retained from the original law.
In 2021, a set of related provisions on “Counter-espionage precautions” were released, emphasizing a whole-of-society approach to detecting and preventing espionage, and increasing the authority of State Security forces to investigate suspected espionage. These provisions were followed by the release of many regional government regulations (条例）on such prevention work, including in Tibet.
In addition to this authority, the draft revisions also borrow from provisions from the general criminal procedure and public security management policing laws in discussing the investigative powers of the state security forces. Most of these provisions, such as on investigative summons and interrogation, closely track the language of existing rules on police conduct, but due to the expansive mandate in preventing espionage, may now be applicable in situations where police normally couldn’t act.
The chart below is not complete but attempts to track some of the major changes in the draft revisions. We have relied heavily on a Chinese language comparison by NPC Observer. [UPDATE, the Chart below now indicates changes in the finalized law as well]
Green text indicates additions, red text is deletions, and blue text is for rephrasing.