China: A New Chinese National Intelligence Law Is On Its Way

In Short

The Situation: A first draft of China's new National Intelligence Law, introduced by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, was designed for the purpose of "strengthening and guaranteeing national intelligence work, and safeguarding national security and interests."

The Result: The draft is explicit in stating that obstruction of national intelligence work is prohibited, that "foreign institutions, organizations, and individuals" could be subjected to intelligence-related actions, and that individual personal property can be accessed for investigative purposes.

Looking Ahead: Foreign investors and individuals conducting business in China could be targeted by intelligence agencies for the collection of information.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress ("SCNPC"), the legislative body of the People's Republic of China ("PRC" or "China"), released a first draft of the National Intelligence Law ("Draft") on May 16, 2017. The Draft was posted on the SCNPC website to solicit comments from the public until June 4, 2017. This is the first systematic legislation in China that explicitly enumerates the functions and powers, as well as some privileges, that Chinese national intelligence agencies possess when carrying out their duties.

The Draft of the New National Intelligence Law

The Draft consists of four chapters: (i) general principles; (ii) division of work, powers, and authorities among National Intelligence Work Agencies (which encompasses the Ministry of State Security and its organs as well as the intelligence agencies of the Ministry of Public Security and of the militaries) ("Agencies"); (iii) state support on national intelligence work; and (iv) legal liabilities. The Draft was promulgated for the purpose of "strengthening and guaranteeing national intelligence work, and safeguarding national security and interests" (Article 1).

Obstruction of National Intelligence Work is Not Allowed. The Draft states that all governmental agencies, military forces, political parties, social groups, enterprises and organizations, as well as citizens, shall provide support, assistance, and cooperation for intelligence work (Article 6), which shall be conducted legitimately, in a manner respecting and safeguarding human rights and protecting the legal rights and interests of citizens and organizations (Article 7). The Draft states that in the event that any person obstructs the intelligence work performed by the Agencies or their staff, or leaks relevant state secrets in relation to intelligence work, an administrative detention of up to 15 days may be imposed. The Draft provides that criminal liability will be further imposed in the event that such obstruction also constitutes a criminal offense (Article 25 and 26).

Intelligence Work Can Be Conducted Outside China and Towards Foreigners. According to the Draft, Agencies can conduct intelligence work both within and outside PRC (Article 9). In particular, "foreign institutions, organizations, and individuals may be subject to legal liabilities if their conduct within PRC is detrimental to the national security and interests of PRC (Article 11)." This empowers Chinese intelligence agencies to exercise their functions in situations concerning Chinese citizens, enterprises, and organizations, but also in situations concerning foreign individuals and entities whose conduct is considered harmful to China's national security and interests.

Powers and Privileges of Agencies. The Draft allows the Agencies to access and use private parties' materials and facilities to carry out their function.

For instance, the Draft states that the Agencies may "consult or acquire relevant files, materials and goods with approval and after presenting relevant credentials as required when executing their duties (Article 15)," and may also "have access to restricted area or have the privilege in transportation (as needed in emergency) with approval and after presenting relevant credentials as required by regulation (Article 16)." That is to say, the Agencies may have access to individuals' personal belongings and items for the purpose of investigation.

The Draft further provides that Agencies may adopt "technological reconnaissance measures" as necessary upon "strict approval procedures (Article 14)," although the Draft does not specify those procedures. In addition, and subject to related regulations, the staff of Agencies may "have the privilege to use or commandeer vehicles, telecommunication tools, spaces and buildings owned by agencies, organizations, enterprises or individuals as needed for intelligence operations." The Draft states that the Agencies, when necessary, may "set up work premises, equipment, facilities and shall return or reinstate the premises they have occupied after completion of work, and provide compensation as necessary." In the event of loss or damage, Agencies are liable for the compensation (Article 16).

The Draft also provides certain protections to affected parties. For instance, the Draft includes guidelines on supervision and discipline for the staff working for Agencies. It also provides that individuals and organizations have the right to report unlawful behavior by the Agencies to superior authorities (Article 24).

Conclusion and Looking Forward

The Draft was published after a series of other national security related laws were introduced in the past few years, including the National Security Law, the Anti-espionage Law, and the Anti-Terrorism Law of the People's Republic of China. This is the first effort of the Chinese government to specify the constituent organs of the Agencies and their duties and authority.

The Draft indicates that foreign investors and individuals doing business in PRC may be subject to the intelligence collection work of Chinese intelligence agencies in the name of national security. Such parties should watch for the final version of this legislation, which may include more specific guidance on its procedures.

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Divided into four chapters, a draft of China's new National Intelligence Law explicitly defines the functions and powers granted to Chinese intelligence agencies.
  2. Foreign investors, corporations, and individuals could be subject to the intelligence-collection work of Chinese agencies in the name of national security.
  3. A final version of the legislation has not yet been released, but could include more details and guidance on the Law's provisions.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions