China updates counterespionage law, includes cyberattacks as acts of espionage

China revised their Counter-Espionage Law which will come into effect from 1 July 2023


China adopted its revised Counter-Espionage Law, which classifies cyberattacks —including those against state or critical information infrastructure—as acts of espionage. Further, authorities can now conduct anti-espionage investigations to gain access to data, equipment and information. The revised law also bans the transfer of any information related to national security but does not define which issues fall under national security.

Speaking at the occasion, Zhao Leji, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, mentioned that the revised law would help strengthen the country’s ability to safeguard its national security and improve the legal system for national security.

The law was adopted at the second session of the Standing Committee of the 14th National People’s Congress (NPC). President Xi Jinping signed the presidential order on this law after three days of deliberation. The law will come into effect from 1 July 2023.

National security has been a critical focus for Xi and his administration. Analysts state these revisions result from the growing geopolitical rift and suspicion with the USA and its allies. China has, in recent years, detained Chinese and foreign nationals on suspicions of espionage.