GT Voice: State secrets law revision not in conflict with opening-up
Published: Feb 29, 2024 11:38 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The latest revision of the Law on Guarding State Secrets has unsurprisingly triggered a new round of Western media hype about concerns over China's investment environment, but such slander is just a distortion of the actual situation. 

China's efforts to improve its laws and regulations to safeguard national security will not be in conflict with its push to promote further opening-up, and an updated legal system could even play a more active role in providing a safer environment for foreign investment.

Chinese lawmakers on Tuesday voted to adopt a revised Law on Guarding State Secrets. A report by the Voice of America Chinese edition on Thursday said that the revision of China's Law on Guarding State Secrets will exacerbate a chilling effect, posing major operational challenges for foreign businesses in China, while The Wall Street Journal said on Wednesday that the revision has encompassed sensitive information that did not previously fall under its scope, which in turn "potentially adds to foreign businesses' concerns over the risks of operating in the country," and "adds a potentially broad new category of restricted information."

According to the National Administration of State Secrets Protection, the aim of the revision this time is to further strengthen the protection of state secrets so as to maximize the rational use of information sources and to better protect China's core interests and national security. 

But this does not mean that the law will interfere with normal business activities, nor does it mean that it will discriminate against or put new restrictions on foreign investment. As long as foreign businesses in China are operating normally according to law, there is no need for them to worry about triggering such restrictions. 

Any foreign business operating in China needs to abide by Chinese laws and regulations, including the Law on Guarding State Secrets. This is not an excessive request, but a basic principle that applies to any country. Only those with ulterior motives will be concerned about the potential impact, and they are the ones the revision is meant to deter from harming the interests of the country and its people.

The emergence of new technologies and applications such as big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence is accelerating a new technological revolution, creating high demand for laws to support China's independent innovation and development of relevant technologies. This is why the newly revised law has significantly increased technology-related content, adding several provisions that demonstrate a focus on protecting confidential technology innovation and technology security.

Against the background of some Western countries abusing national security excuses to impose unilateral sanctions on Chinese technology companies and suppress China's technological development, it is entirely justified for China to take appropriate measures to ensure its interests in scientific and technological development.

There is no contradiction between this reasonable demand and China's attitude of encouraging foreign investment. Anyone who has basic knowledge of China's opening-up policy would not believe Western media outlets' slander that claims Chinese policies are complicating its investment environment with additional legal risks.

When meeting with a US Chamber of Commerce delegation in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Qiang made it clear that China will open its door even wider to the outside world, continue to foster a market-oriented, law-based and internationalized business environment, and provide more support and convenience for US companies and those from other countries to invest and do business in China. 

China has been committed to expanding its opening-up to attract foreign investment in recent years, with its huge market and enormous potential luring an increasing number of foreign businesses to invest. 

During this process, China has also worked on improving relevant laws and regulations, with an eye to ensuring a safer and steady market environment. This is because an up-to-date legal system is part of the efforts to open its market further. These measures aimed at ensuring the fair operation of the investment environment are conducive to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of foreign companies and providing a stable law-based business environment.

It's hoped that more foreign businesses will recognize and share the development opportunities of the Chinese market, rather than falling for groundless slander.