In its new anti-espionage regulation rolled out on Monday, China has separate rules for those going to the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
"Staff going on business trips to foreign countries, such as countries of the Five Eyes alliance - the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand - have been told to strictly report their travel destinations, agendas, and meetings with foreign personnel, and they must get approval from their direct superiors before the applications are reviewed by the headquarters," staff member in charge of foreign affairs at the headquarters of a central state-owned enterprise in Beijing, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Monday. The department has been strengthening counterintelligence security work for all personnel traveling overseas since 2019.
"For visits to countries that have been categorized as high-risk in terms of spying activities, we will evaluate if the trips are necessary and would advise against going if they are not essential," the staff member noted.
China drafted the anti-regulations in light of intelligence theft against China and intensified infiltration of foreign spies and intelligence agencies and other hostile forces, the report said.
"The regulation is of great significance to improve the legal system in protecting national security by specifying the responsibilities that companies and institutions must bear. It places emphasis on companies and institutions taking precautionary measures against foreign espionage," Li Wei, an expert on national security and anti-terrorism at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, stated.
According to the regulation, companies, organizations or social groups on the list shoulder the responsibility to roll out detailed measures against foreign espionage, including arranging their working staff to sign letters of commitment before taking up posts, reporting their activities related to national security, giving education to personnel ahead of their departures abroad, and interviewing personnel after their return to China. The regulation did not specify which industries or companies will be on the list, but it said the list will be drawn up based on the level of confidentiality that the industry involves, the degree of foreign involvement, and whether there have been previous incidents that endangered national security.
The Chinese enterprise working to curb espionage has also strengthened pre-departure anti-spying education through means of seminars and short movies, where cases of foreign intelligence work are shown. The company has asked staff involved in sensitive fields or those holding important files to leave their electrical devices including mobile phones, laptops and USB devices at home and bring new ones abroad.
Any companies or institutions within the scope of national defense, diplomacy, economy, finance and high-tech industry should be considered as key fields in terms of possible foreign infiltration, according to Li.
"Cases of Chinese people working in various industries who were wooed by money or intimidated to engage in espionage activities and became pawns of foreign spy intelligence agencies are numerous. Taking preventive measures and avoiding similar incidents that endanger national security is crucial to protecting national security," Li said.
To carry out anti-espionage missions and eliminate the hidden dangers of foreign espionage, the regulation also gives national security organs access to buildings, internal materials, electronical media kits, facilities, or computers and information systems of the companies involved.
Those companies or organs that fail to implement their responsibilities, which results in negative outcomes, will face punishments accordingly, the regulation said.