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China Daily Website  

Lawmaker proposes reducing scope of state secrets

Updated: 2014-10-28 19:54

BEIJING - A Chinese lawmaker proposed reduction of the scope of state secrets on Tuesday while discussing a draft Counterespionage Law aimed at more comprehensive state security.

Leaking confidential documents is one of the common law violations committed by government workers driven by profits, Lawmaker Fu Ying, a former vice foreign minister, told a group discussion during the ongoing bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, China's top legislature.

Fu pointed out that standards for classified documents in China are "relatively low". She said some documents are classified as state secrets due to the nature of the department handling them, not because the content falls into the category of state secrets.

Official speeches have sometimes been deemed as confidential before the speeches were delivered or released, said the former diplomat who now chairs the NPC Foreign Affairs Committee. She said they should be declassified after being made public.

China has been increasingly involved in many international events, with various documents to handle. "State secrets that are too widely ranged cannot be effectively managed," said Fu, also spokeswoman for the NPC annual session.

The top legislature started reading a draft Counterespionage Law on Monday. Formerly known as the National Security Law, the draft rewrites articles that were not in line with other recently revised laws, including the Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law.

Foreign organizations and individuals who conduct espionage activities or who instigate and sponsor others in conducting them will be punished, as will domestic organizations and individuals who spy on the country for foreign organizations and individuals, the bill says.

Fu said amending the law is important as required by the country's demand for rule of law. Tuesday's discussion was attended by top legislator Zhang Dejiang.

Sun Baoshu, vice chairman of the Law Committee of the NPC Standing Committee, proposed the law should include a clause stipulating that "sanctioned state security staff can go to off-limit places to retrieve data." The current version only says staff can look up files and examine materials and articles in restricted places.

"Some Internet operators or enterprises refused to provide relevant evidence, causing difficulties for counterespionage investigations," Sun said, adding big data processing is a key method nowadays.

It is necessary to transform the current National Security Law into the Counterespionage Law in order to "prepare for a comprehensive and fundamental state security law," he said.

At the first meeting of the central national security commission in April, President Xi Jinping advocated an "overall national security outlook."

Xi stressed that the challenges China faces in maintaining national security today are more diverse than they have ever been, as it has seen complicated internal and external situations.

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