China Daily Editorial: (HK) Robust national security legal system urged

Experts advocate sound framework to safeguard interests of people, entities

By Yang Zekun | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-16 07:05

China’s legal system should be improved further to meet the evolving needs of national security, ensure legal protection in foreign-related security matters and safeguard interests of the Chinese people and entities, experts said.

They made the remarks on the occasion of the ninth National Security Education Day on Monday. The day also marked the 10th anniversary of the holistic approach to national security, an important concept proposed by President Xi Jinping in April 2014.

Li Weihai, a professor at China University of Political Science and Law’s school of national security, said the construction of a legal framework for national security is a systemic project, involving legislation, regulations, implementation, supervision and guarantee.

China’s legal framework for national security has seen significant development, especially since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, featuring a more rapid process and forming a relatively complete national security legal system, he said.

The legal norms concerning national security have increased the attention of governments at all levels and various sectors of society to national security issues, fundamentally enhanced the public’s awareness, and provided a legal basis for national security work, Li said.

“China’s holistic approach to national security relies on international security, balancing and considering both our own security and common security. The sound legal system also contributes to China’s establishment of international security cooperation and communication mechanisms with other countries, to jointly cope with global security challenges,” he said.

In addition to legislations on military security, political security and cybersecurity, Li underscored the need for improvements in national security-related legal systems in areas such as economic, cultural, social and ecological security, in order to effectively address various internal and external challenges.

Since the establishment of the National Security Commission of the CPC Central Committee, a top-level body to guide China’s security issues, in 2013, the country has formulated the national security strategy outline and important policies in various fields, along with efforts to improve the national security legislation.

Subsequently, a series of laws, including the National Security Law enacted on July 1, 2015, have been introduced, and numerous laws and regulations containing national security provisions have been formulated or revised.

The report of the 20th National Congress of the CPC, which was held in 2022, further emphasized improving the national security legal system.

Dai Changzheng, dean of the School of International Relations at the University of International Business and Economics, said the promulgation of the laws reflects a deepening understanding of national security and how to maintain it in the face of evolving domestic and international situations.

“National security is in a constant state of adjustment,” he said.

Dai emphasized that the primary aim of protecting national security is to ensure that national interests are not threatened, with China’s national interests categorized into core interests, major interests and general interests.

These interests are closely interconnected and sometimes can be transformed, and a preventive mindset must be upheld to avoid harm to national interests in various fields, he said.

With the expanding scope of national security interests, legislation should be continuously developed, followed by supporting policies and regulations to guide practice, Dai said. For instance, the recent countermeasures against the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems in the United States were based on the Law on Countering Foreign Sanctions.

“China’s practices of safeguarding national security and national interests are also the common practices in the international community, and other countries have no right to interfere or make accusations,” he said.

Given that traditional and nontraditional security threats are interwoven, Li, the professor at China University of Political Science and Law, said the rule of law should be advanced in a coordinated manner and necessary measures should be taken to respond to external security threats.

In the face of transnational security threats, countries need to strengthen cooperation and exchanges with each other and international organizations, to jointly address these threats and promote the establishment of a fairer and more reasonable global security order, Li said.

Over the years, the US has generalized the concept of national security, abused export control measures, and arbitrarily imposed unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction” on Chinese companies, placing more than 1,000 Chinese companies on its “entity list” with unfounded justifications.

Last week, the US Department of Commerce added another six Chinese companies to the list, covering artificial intelligence, computing, drones and other sectors.

The Foreign Ministry said that Beijing opposes the US’ abuse of the list and other export control tools to “contain and suppress” Chinese companies. It urged Washington to stop politicizing trade and technology issues, and stressed that China will take necessary steps to safeguard its rights and interests.

Li suggested strengthening the assessment and early warning of risks in overseas investment, improving awareness of Chinese companies and individuals overseas about China’s national security, and enhancing their emergency response capabilities.

Given the rising number of Chinese companies and individuals engaging in overseas investment and development, they are increasingly being targeted by foreign intelligence agencies.

In a case disclosed by the Ministry of State Security, Liang Chengyun, also known as John Shingwan Leung, born in Hong Kong in 1945, was given a life sentence by a Chinese court for espionage in May 2023.

Liang went to the US in 1983, and cooperated with US intelligence agencies after being approached in 1986. He signed a “cooperation agreement” with US intelligence agencies and acquired US citizenship in 1989.

He once served as the head of several overseas Chinese associations in the US, and made donations in China so as to be seen as a patriot and philanthropist. Under these disguises, he engaged in extensive espionage activities against China, until he was arrested in April 2021.

Details of Liang’s case and a few similar ones have been recently disclosed to the public by China’s national security agency, in order to strengthen awareness against espionage and safeguard State security.