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PRC Law on the Guarding of State Secrets

Promulgation Date: 2024-2-27
Title: PRC Law on the Guarding of State Secrets
Document Number:
Expiration date: 
Promulgating Entities: Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
Source of text: http://www.npc.gov.cn/npc/c2/c30834/202402/t20240227_434859.html

Table of Contents

Chapter I: General Provisions

Chapter II: The Scope and Levels of State Secrets

Chapter III: Secrecy Systems

Chapter IV: Oversight and Management

Chapter V: Legal Responsibility

Chapter VI: Supplementary Provisions

Chapter I: General Provisions

Article 1: This Law is formulated on the basis of the Constitution so as to guard state secrets, preserve national security and interests, and ensure smooth progress in matters of reform and opening and the establishment of socialist modernization.

Article 2: State secrets are matters related to national security and interests, determined in accordance with legally prescribed procedures, and known to a limited range of personnel within a certain period of time.

Article 3: Uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China in efforts to guard state secrets (hereinafter referred to as "secrecy"). The Central Leading Group for Secrecy Work leads the nation's efforts to guard secrets; researches, drafts, and guides the implementation of state secrets work strategies and major directives and policies; plans and coordinates major matters and important efforts in state secrecy, and advances the establishment of law in state secrets.

Article 4: Secrecy work is to uphold the holistic view of national security and adhere to the principles of Party management of secrecy, management in accordance with the law, active prevention, highlighting key points, equally emphasizing technology and management, and innovative development; to not only ensure the security of state secrets, but also facilitates the reasonable use of information resources.

Matters that laws and administrative regulations provide are to be disclosed shall be disclosed in accordance with law.

Article 5: State secrets are protected by law.

All state organs and armed forces, each political party, people's group, enterprise and public institutions, organization, and other social organizations, as well as citizens, have an obligation to protect state secrets.

Any behavior that endangers the security of state secrets must be legally pursued.

Article 6: The state secrets administration department is in charge of secrecy work nationwide. Local secrets administration departments at the county level and above are in charge of secrecy work in the corresponding administrative region.

Article 7: State organs and units involved with state secrets (hereinafter referred to as organs and units) are to manage the secrecy work of that organ or unit.

Within the scope of their authority, the central state organs are to manage or lead the secrecy work in the corresponding system.

Article 8: Organs and units shall implement a responsibility system for secrecy work, set up a secrecy work body or appoint dedicated personnel in accordance with law to be responsible for secrecy work, complete systems for secrecy management, improve secrecy protection measures, carry out publicity and education on secrecy, and strengthen secrecy oversight inspections.

Article 9: The state is to employ diverse forms to strengthen publicity and education on secrecy, include secrecy education in the national citizen education system and civil servant education and training system, encourage mass media to conduct public-facing publicity and education on secrecy, spread knowledge about secrecy, and publicize secrecy law, to enhance the entire society's awareness of secrecy.

Article 10: The state encourages and supports the research and application of science and technology for secrecy, increasing capacity for independent innovation, and protecting intellectual property rights in the field of secrecy protections in accordance with the law.

Article 11: People's governments at the county level or above shall include secrecy work into the citizens' economic and social development plans for that level, and the required funds are to be included in the budget for that level.

The funds required by organs and units carrying out secrecy work shall be included in the annual budget or annual expenditure plan for that organ or unit.

Article 12: The state is to strengthen the cultivation and development of professional talent for secrecy, and improve related safeguard and incentive mechanisms.

Organizations and individuals that have made outstanding contributions in guarding and protecting state secrets are to be given commendations and rewards in accordance with relevant state provisions.

Chapter II: The Scope and Levels of State Secrets

Article 13: The following matters involving national security and interests, which if leaked might harm the nation's security and interests in fields such as politics, economics, national defense, and diplomacy and other fields if leaked, shall be designated as state secrets:

(1) Secret matters in major decision-making on state affairs;

(2) Secret matters in national defense construction and armed forces activities;

(3) Secret matters in diplomacy and foreign affairs activities, as well as secret matters that are subject to external confidentiality obligations;

(4) Secret matters in national economic and social development;

(5) Secret matters in science and technology;

(6) Secret matters in activities for preserving national security and the investigation of crimes;

(7) Other secret matters as designated by the state secrets administration department.

Secret matters of political parties that meet the requirements of the preceding paragraph are state secrets.

Article 14: State secrets are divided into three classification levels: top secret, classified, and secret.

Top secret state secrets are the most important state secrets, the leaking of which could cause especially serious harm to national security or interests; Secret state secrets are important state secrets, the leaking of which could cause serious harm to national security or interests; and confidential state secrets are ordinary state secrets, the leaking of which could cause harm to national security or interests.

Article 15: The specific scopes of state secrets and their classification levels (hereinafter "scopes of secrecy") are to be provided for by the state secrets administration departments, either independently or in conjunction with the relevant central state organs.

The scope of military secrets is to be provided for by the Central Military Commission.

The determination of scopes of secrecy shall follow the principles of necessity and reasonableness and scientific debate and assessment, and be timely adjusted on the basis of changing circumstances. Provisions on the scope of secrecy shall be disclosed within a relevant range.

Article 16: The primary responsible persons for organs and units and personnel that they designate are the persons responsible for classification and are responsible for the work of designating, changing, and lifting state secrecy in that organ or unit.

Organs or units designation, changing, or lifting of state secrets in that organ or unit shall be upon the submission of a specific opinion of the person undertaking the matter and review and approval by the person in charge of classification.

Article 17: Determinations of state secret's classification level shall comply with classification authority.

Central state organs, provincial organs, and organs or units that they authorize may designate top secret, secret, and confidential level secrets; districted city level organs and organs or units that they authorize may designate secret or confidential level state secrets; and in special circumstances where authorization cannot be made in accordance with the provisions above, the state secrets administration department or the secrets administration department of a province, autonomous region, or directly-governed municipality may grant an organ classification authority. The specific classification authority and scope of authorization are to be provided for by the state secrets administration department.

Where lower-level organs or units feel that classification matters produced by that organ or unit are within the classification authority of the higher-level organ or unit, they shall first employ protective measures and immediately report to the higher-level organ or unit for a determination; and where there is no higher-level organ or unit, they shall immediately request that a competent operation department with corresponding classification authority or a secrets administration department make the designation.

Public security organs and state security organs are to designate the classification level of state secrets for in accordance with their authority.

Article 18: Where organs and units enforcing state secrets designated by higher levels or handling state secrets designated by other organs and units need to make derivative designations, they shall make designations based on the secrecy level of the secrets they are enforcing or handling.

Article 19: The state secrecy items produced by organs and units shall have their secrecy level designated in accordance with provisions on the scope of secrecy, and concurrently determine the duration and scope of the secrecy; and those with capacity may label key areas.

Article 20: The secrecy period for state secrets shall be based on the nature and characteristics of the matter, and be in accordance with the need to preserve national security and interests, and be limited to the necessary period.

Except as otherwise provided, the secrecy period for state secrets is not to exceed thirty years for the top secret level, twenty years for the secret level, and ten years for the confidential level.

Organs and units shall designate the specific secrecy period, declassification time, or declassification conditions based on work needs.

Where in the course of deciding on and handling related matters, organs or units decide to disclose matters that have been designated as needing to be kept secret as needed for work, the will be viewed as declassified when formally published.

Article 21: The scope of those with knowledge of state secrets shall be limited to the smallest scope necessary based on work needs.

Where the scope of knowledge of state secrets can be limited to specific personnel, it shall be limited to the specific personnel; where it cannot be limited to specific personnel, it is to be limited to organs and units, which shall then limit it to specific personnel.

Where persons outside the scope of knowledge for state secrets need to know of state secrets for work, it shall be upon the approval from the primary person in charge of the organ or unit, or the persons they designated. Where the original classifying organs or units have clear provisions on expanding the scope of knowledge for state secrets, those provisions shall be followed.

Article 22: Organs and units shall label paper media, optical media, electromagnetic media, and other media as state secrets (hereinafter referred to as state secret media), as well as equipment and products that are state secrets.

Electronic documents involving state secrets shall be labeled as state secrets in accordance with relevant state provisions.

Items that are not state secrets must not be labeled as state secrets.

Article 23: The classification level, secrecy period, and scope of knowledge for state secrets shall be promptly changed based on changes in circumstances. Changes in the classification level, secrecy period, or scope of knowledge for state secrets are to be decided on by the original classification organ or unit, and may also be decided on by its superior organ.

Where the classification level, secrecy period, or scope of knowledge of a state secret is changed, the organs, units, or persons within the scope of knowledge shall be promptly notified in writing.

Article 24: Organs and units shall review their state secrets designations each year.

Where the secrecy period for state secrets is completed, they are automatically declassified. Where the scope of secret matters is adjusted within the secrecy period and it is no longer a state secret, or disclosure will not harm national security and interests, and it is not necessary to continue keeping it secret, it shall be promptly declassified; and where it is necessary to extend the secrecy period, the secrecy level, secrecy period, and scope of knowledge shall be recalculated before the completion of the secrecy period. The original classification organ or unit is to make the decision on early declassification or extension of the secrecy period, and it superior organ may also make the decision.

Article 25: Where an organ or unit is unclear or disputes whether something is a state secret or what level of secrecy it belongs to, the national secrets administration department or the secrets administration department of the province, autonomous region, or directly governed municipality is to make the determination in accordance with state secrecy provisions.

Chapter III: Secrecy Systems

Article 26: The production, receipt, transmission, use, reproduction, storage, maintenance, and destruction of state secret media shall comply with state secrecy provisions.

Top-secret state secret media shall be stored in facilities and equipment that comply with standards for state secrets, and dedicated personnel are to be designated to manage them; they shall not be reproduced or copied from without the approval of the original classification organ or unit or its superior organ; personnel shall be designated as responsible in sending, receiving, transmitting and carrying it outside, and necessary security measures are to be employed.

Article 27: The research and development, production, transport, use, storage, maintenance and destruction of equipment and products that are state secrets shall comply with state secrecy provisions.

Article 28: Organs and units shall strengthen the management of state secret media, and organizations and individuals must not engage in the following conduct:

(1) Illegally obtaining or possessing state secret media;

(2) Buying, selling, transferring, or privately destroying state secret media;

(3) Delivering state secret media through ordinary postal service, courier service, or other channels without secrecy measures;

(4) Sending or transporting state secrets media out of the mainland;

(5) Carrying or transmitting state secrets media out of the mainland without the approval of the relevant departments in charge;

(6) Other conduct that violates secrecy provisions for state secret media.

Article 29: It is prohibited to illegally reproduce, record, or store state secrets.

It is prohibited to transmit state secrets on the Internet and other public information networks, or wired and wireless communications, without employing effective secrecy measures in accordance with state secrecy provisions and standards.

It is prohibited for private exchanges and communications to involve state secrets.

Article 30: Computer information systems that store and process state secrets (hereinafter referred to as secrets-related information systems) are to implement graded protection according to the degree of secrecy.

Secrets-related information systems shall be planned, constructed, operated, and maintained in accordance with state secrecy provisions and standards, and be equipped with secrecy facilities and equipment. Secrecy facilities and equipment shall be planned, constructed, and operated concurrently with secrets-related information systems.

Secrets-related information systems shall be put into use only after passing inspections in accordance with provisions, and risk assessments are to be carried out regularly.

Article 31: Organs and units shall strengthen secrecy management of information systems and information equipment, establish facilities that self-monitor for secrecy, and promptly discover and address latent security risks. The following conduct must not be exhibited by any organization or individual:

(1) Failing to employ effective secrecy measures in accordance with state secrecy provisions and standards, and connecting secret information systems and secret information equipment to the Internet or other public information networks;

(2) Failing to employ effective secrecy measures in accordance with state secrecy provisions and standards, and conducting information exchanges between secrets-related information systems, secrets-related information equipment, and the Internet or other public information networks;

(3) Using non-secret information systems and non-secret information equipment to store or process state secrets;

(4) Uninstalling or modifying secrets-related information systems' technical security programs and management programs without authorization;

(5) Giving away, selling, discarding, or repurposing secrets information equipment that has been withdrawn from use but not undergone technical security treatment;

(6) Other conduct that violates secrecy provisions for information systems and information equipment.

Article 32: Security and secrecy products and technical equipment for secrecy that are used to protect state secrets shall comply with state secrecy provisions and standards.

The state is to establish a system of spot inspections and re-inspections for security and secrecy products and technical secrecy equipment; and a body that is set up or authorized by the state secrets administration departments is to conduct the inspections.

Article 33: The editing, publishing, printing, and distribution of newspapers, books, audio-visual works, and electronic publications; the production and broadcast of radio programs, TV programs, and movies; and the production, reproduction, publication, and transmission of internet information shall comply with state secrecy provisions.

Article 34: Network operators shall strengthen management of information published by their users and cooperate with supervision organs', secrecy administration departments', and public security organs' investigations and handling of cases of suspected state secrets leaks; and where they discover that information released using the Internet or other public information networks is suspected of being leaked state secrets, they shall immediately stop its transmission, save relevant records, and report to the secrets administration departments or public security organs and state security organs; and shall delete information involving the leakage of state secrets as requested by the secrets administration department, public security organs, and national security organs, and conduct technical process relevant equipment.

Article 35: Organs and units shall conduct a secrecy review in accordance with law for information to be disclosed, and comply with provisions on state secrecy.

Article 36: Data processing activities involving state secrets and their security oversight shall comply with state secrecy provisions.

The state secrets administration department and the secrets administration departments of provinces, autonomous regions, and directly governed municipalities are to collaborate with the relevant competent departments to establish mechanisms for security and secrecy controls, employ measures for security and secrecy controls, and prevent risks of leakage caused by data aggregation and connections.

Organs and units shall lawfully strengthen the security management of data that are state secrets after aggregation or connections.

Article 37: Where organs and units provide state secrets to overseas organizations or to organizations and bodies established by overseas entities in mainland China, or where overseas personnel that have been appointed or employed need to know state secrets for work, it shall be handled in accordance with relevant state provisions.

Article 38: Where a conference or other activity involving state secrets is held, the hosting unit shall employ secrecy measures, conduct secrecy education for participants, and put forward specific secrecy requirements.

Article 39:Organs and units shall designate institutions that involve top-secret, or a larger amount of secret or confidential, state secrets as vital secrets departments, and designate special locations for the centralized production, storage, and safekeeping of state secrets media as vital secrets areas, and allot and use the necessary technical protective facilities and equipment in accordance with state secrecy provisions and standards.

Article 40: Military restricted areas, military management areas, and other venues and places that are state secrets and are not open to the public shall adopt secrecy measures and must not decide on their own volition to open to the public or to expand the scope of their openness without the approval of relevant departments.

The areas surrounding military facilities that involve secrets and other important units involving secrets shall strengthen secrecy management in accordance with state secrecy provisions.

Article 41: Enterprises and public institutions engaged in operations involving state secrets shall possess the corresponding capacity for secrecy management, and obey state secrecy provisions.

Enterprises and public institutions that are engaged in state secrets operations such as the production, reproduction, maintenance, and destruction of state secret media, the integration of secrets-related information systems, scientific research and production of weapons and equipment, or the construction of secret military facilities must obtain secrecy credentials after review and approval.

Article 42: Organs and units that purchase goods, and services that involve state secrets, and units such as those establishing, designing, working on, or supervising projects that directly involve state secrets, shall obey state secrecy provisions.

Organs or units that entrust enterprises or public institutions to engage in operations involving state secrets shall sign secrecy agreements with them, put forward secrecy requirements, and employ secrecy measures.

Article 43: Personnel working in positions involving secrets (hereinafter referred to as secrets-related personnel) are divided into core secrets-related personnel, important secrets-related personnel, and ordinary secrets-related personnel in accordance with the extent of secrecy, and management by category is to be implemented.

The appointment or employment of secrets-related personnel shall be reviewed in accordance with relevant state regulations.

Secrets-related personnel shall have good political caliber and moral conduct, undergo secrecy education and training, have the work capacity and secrecy knowledge and skills to succeed in secrets-related positions, sign a secrecy pledge, strictly abide by state secrecy provisions, and take responsibility for secrecy.

The lawful rights and interests of secrets-related personnel are to be protected by law. Secrets-related personnel whose lawful rights and interests are impacted or restricted due to secrecy are to be given corresponding benefits or compensation in accordance with relevant state provisions.

Article 44: Organs and units shall establish and complete management systems for secrets-related personnel, clarify the rights, job responsibilities, and requirements of secrets-related personnel, and carry out regular oversight and inspections of the secrets-related personnel's performance of their duties.

Article 45: Secrets-related personnel shall get the approval of the relevant departments to leave the mainland, and where the relevant organs believe that the overseas travel of secret-related personnel will cause harm to national security or cause major losses to national interests, they must not approve it.

Article 46: Secrets-related personnel who are leaving their posts shall comply with provisions on guarding state secrets. Organs and units shall carry out confidentiality education and reminders, reclaim state secret media, and implement classification separation management periods. During the classification separation period, secrets-related personnel must not be employed or leave the mainland in violation of provisions, and must not leak state secrets by any means; and after the classification separation period concludes, they shall obey state secrecy provisions and continue to fulfill secrecy obligations for the state secrets that they know. Where secrets-related personnel violate state secrecy provisions when leaving their position or job and during the classification separation period, organs and units shall promptly report to the secrets administration department at that level, and the secrets administration department, is to take measures to address it in accordance with law in conjunction with relevant departments.

Article 47:When state employees or other citizens discover that state secrets have been leaked or might be leaked, they shall immediately employ remedial measures and promptly report to relevant organs and units. After organs and units receive a report, they shall immediately address it and promptly report to the secrets administration department.

Chapter IV: Oversight and Management

Article 48: In accordance with laws, administrative regulations, and provisions, the state secrets administration department is to draft rules for secrecy and state secrecy standards.

Article 49: The secrets administration departments are to organize and carry out publicity and education on secrecy, secrecy inspections, technical secrecy protections, and efforts to investigate and handle secrecy violations in accordance with law, and provide guidance, oversight, and management of secrecy work.

Article 50: Where the secrets administration departments discover that state secrets have been improperly designated, changed, or declassified, they shall promptly notify the relevant organs and units to make corrections.

Article 51: The secrets administration departments are to lawfully conduct inspections of organs' and units' compliance laws, regulations, and systems related to secrecy; and where a secrecy violation is suspected, they shall promptly investigate and address it or organize and urge investigation and handling by relevant organs or units; and where a crime is suspected, the matter is to be transferred to the supervision or judicial organs for handling.

The secrets administration departments shall recommend that the relevant organs or units transfer secrets-related personnel with serious violations of provisions on keeping state secrets out of positions involving secrets.

Relevant organs, units, and individuals shall cooperate with secrets administration departments that are performing their duties in accordance with law.

Article 52: During secrecy inspections and case investigation and handling, the secrets administration departments may access relevant materials, question personnel, record situations, and register and preserve relevant facilities, equipment, documents, etc. in accordance with the law; and when necessary may conduct technical secrecy testing.

The secrets administration departments shall collect any state secrets media that are found to have been illegally obtained or possessed during secrecy inspections and case investigation and handling; where it is discovered that there are risks of leaking state secrets, they shall request that measures be employed and corrections made in a set period of time; and where there are risks of state secrets leaks in facilities, equipment, or locations, an order is to be given to stop their use.

Article 53:Where an organ handling a case of a suspected leak of state secrets needs to evaluate whether the relevant matter is a state secret or what level of secrecy it belongs to, the state secrets administration department or the provincial, autonomous region, or directly-governed municipality is to conduct the evaluation.

Article 54: Where an organ or unit fails to sanction persons who violate state secrecy provisions in accordance with law, the secrets administration departments shall recommend corrections; where corrections are refused, the organ or supervision organ at the level above is to be requested to sanction the responsible leaders and the person directly responsible at the organ or unit in accordance with law.

Article 55: The secrets administration departments at or above the districted-city level are to establish secrecy risk assessment mechanisms, monitoring and early warning systems, and emergency response systems, and are to carry out information collection, analysis, and reporting in conjunction with relevant departments.

Article 56:In accordance with the provisions of laws and administrative regulations, the secrecy association and other industry organizations are to carry out activities to advance industry self-discipline and promote the healthy development of the industry.

Chapter V: Legal Responsibility

Article 57: In any of the following situations where this law is violated, sanctions are to be given in light of the seriousness of the situation; where there are unlawful gains, the unlawful gains are to be confiscated:

(1) Illegally obtaining or possessing state secret media;

(2) Buying, selling, transferring or privately destroying state secrets media;

(3) Transmitting state secret media through ordinary mail, courier services, or other channels without secrecy measures;

(4) Sending or transporting state secret media out of the mainland, or carrying or sending state secret media out of the mainland without the approval of the relevant competent departments;

(5) Illegally reproducing, recording, or storing state secrets;

(6) Involving state secrets in private exchanges and communications;

(7) Failing to employ effective secrecy measures in accordance with state secrecy provisions and standards, where transmitting state secrets on the Internet and other public information networks or by wired or wireless communications;

(8) Failing to take effective secrecy measures in accordance with state secrecy provisions and standards, where connecting secrets-related information systems and secrets-related information equipment to the Internet and other public information networks;

(9) Failing to employ effective secrecy measures in accordance with state secrecy provisions and standards, where exchanging information between secrets-related information systems, secrets-related information equipment and the Internet and other public information networks;

(10) Using information systems and information equipment that are not secrets-related to store and process state secrets;

(11) Uninstalling or modifying technical security programs and management programs of secrets-related information systems without authorization;

(12) Giving away, selling, discarding, or repurposing secrets-related information equipment that has been withdrawn from use but has not been technical security processed;

(13) Other situations that violate the provisions of this Law.

Where the situations provided for in the preceding paragraph do not constitute a crime, and the personnel are not to be sanctioned, the secrets administration departments are to urge the organs or units to which the personnel belong to address them.

Article 58: Where organs or units violate this Law and cases of major leaks of state secrets occur, the directly responsible leaders and other directly responsible personnel are to be given sanctions in accordance with law. The secrets administration departments are to urge the competent departments to address personnel that are not sanctioned.

Where an organ or unit violates this Law by not classifying matters that must be classified, by classifying matters that should not be classified, or by failing to fulfill declassification review responsibilities, and serious consequences are caused, the directly responsible leaders and other directly responsible personnel are to be given sanctions in accordance with the law.

Article 59: Where network operators violate Article 34 of this Law, the public security organs, state security organs, telecommunications departments, and secrets administration departments are to lawfully give punishment according to their respective division of responsibilities.

Article 60: Where an enterprise or public institution that has obtained secrecy credentials violates state secrecy provisions, the secrets administration department is to order corrections within a set period of time, give a warning, or notify a criticism; if there are illegal gains, the illegal gains will be confiscated; where the circumstances are serious, suspend operations involving secrets lower credentials levels, and where the circumstances are particularly serious, the secrecy credentials are to be revoked.

Where the secrecy operations provided for in article 41 paragraph 2 of this Law are engaged in without obtaining secrecy credentials, the secrets administration departments are to order that the secrecy operations be stopped and give warnings or circulate criticism; and where there are unlawful gains, they are to be confiscated.

Article 61: Where staff of the secrets administration departments abuse their authority, derelict duties, or twist the law for personal gain in the course of performing secrets management duties, they are to be given sanctions in accordance with law.

Article 62: Where a violation of the provisions of this Law constitutes a crime, criminal responsibility is to be pursued in accordance with law.

Chapter VI: Supplementary Provisions

Article 63: Based on this law, the Central Military Commission is to formulate specific provisions on secrecy work by the People's Liberation Army and People's Armed Police.

Article 64: Organs and units are to apply work secrets management measures and employ the necessary protective measures for matters generated or obtained by organs or units in the course of performing their functions that are not state secrets but would cause a definite adverse impact after leaking. Provisions on the management of work secrets are to be provided separately.

Article 65: This law is to take effect on May 1, 2024.

 

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