Chongqing, a Chinese city with 32.12 million residents, has taken a monumental step in bolstering national security by introducing on Friday a localized Anti-Espionage Regulation. With its population outstripping even that of Shanghai’s 24.89 million and Beijing’s 21.88 million, Chongqing’s move sets an impactful precedent for other major Chinese cities.
Reacting to China’s recent amendments to the National Anti-Espionage Law—a matter that garnered international attention due to its expansive scope over information transfers related to national security—Chongqing was quick to adapt. The city distilled its anti-espionage regulations into 29 articles. The resulting articles The move parallel the national law modifications.
These regulations are comprehensive, striving not just for the detection but also for the prevention of espionage. By emphasizing awareness and preparation, Chongqing aims to equip its organizations and citizens with the necessary tools to counter threats preemptively. Thus, public involvement is another significant element of these guidelines. Chongqing’s citizens are not only encouraged but—in certain instances—mandated to report any activity that might indicate espionage attempts. This aligns with the national ethos that the responsibility of shielding the nation’s interests lies with every citizen, as articulated in Article 11 of the National Security Law.
In addition, the new regulation implements rigorous checks on overseas interactions and trips by institutions located within the city. There is also a heightened focus is on individuals involved in foreign exchanges and collaborations. Before any foreign assignment, these individuals must now undergo specialized anti-espionage training. Their activities overseas will also be monitored, and upon their return to Chongqing, they’ll participate in detailed debriefings. The regulations further mandate organizations with overseas branches or personnel to develop and execute specific anti-espionage protocols.
The regulation also details the consequences for mishandling classified data. Distributing, copying or holding sensitive information without authorization is expressly prohibited, with transgressors subjected to strict penalties. Within this protective framework, Chongqing’s businesses and institutions are central. They must consistently conduct internal assessments to identify weak points and are duty-bound to report any action potentially jeopardizing national security.
This reinforced stance on espionage hasn’t been confined to China’s borders. Internationally, the global tug-of-war over espionage is evident. Recently, the CIA’s Bureau Chief publicly acknowledged the agency’s advancements concerning its intelligence operations in China. The US has also disclosed the detention of alleged Chinese operatives on spying charges. Shortly thereafter, China’s Ministry of State Security broadcasted two separate incidents linked to the CIA, further fueling allegations and counterclaims between the two superpowers.
This complex web of allegations was further complicated earlier this year when high-altitude balloons became a point of contention. In February, the US downed a Chinese balloon over the Atlantic in an action seen by many as counter-espionage. The US alleged that the balloon was connected to Chinese spying efforts, while China maintained the balloon for scientific research and had drifted off course. A week later, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin pointed out that China has observed at least 10 unauthorized US balloons intruding into Chinese airspace, a contention the US promptly denied.