China requires Tibetans to spy on each other, foreigners under new counter-espionage law

Chinese police in Lhasa. (Photo courtesy: Xinhua)

(, Mar17’21) – A set of regulations which came into force in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) on Jan 1, 2021, requires Tibetans to spy on each other and on foreigners in the name of China’s national security, said Washington-based advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet Mar 15. The group said the regulations were tied to President Xi Jinping’s “Overall National Security Outlook.”

The “Regulations on counter-espionage Security of the Tibet Autonomous Region” are the regional-level regulation made under the provisions of a series of Chinese national laws. These include the national Counter-espionage Law of the People’s Republic of China (2014), the Detailed Rules for the implementation of the Counter-espionage Law of the People’s Republic of China (2017), National Intelligence Law of the People’s Republic of China (2017) and the National Security Law of the People’s Republic of China (2015).

Many of the 32 provisions in the regulations for the TAR reaffirm the provisions in the national “counter-espionage law”. However, there are a number of provisions that are specific to the TAR. For example, “counter-espionage” in the TAR includes activities such as “ethnic secession,” “ethnic dispute,” and “using religion to endanger national security” (Article 1 and 2), the group noted.

In China, “counter-espionage Law gives security authorities arbitrary powers to handle all kinds of activities which they perceive as endangering national security including espionage. Their exercise of powers, including wiretapping, opening investigations, making detentions and arrests, and carrying out pre-trials, is not subject to judicial review.

“The law and regulations do not provide for any mechanism to check the exercise of their powers,” former law lecturer at Peking University and Chinese legal activist Wang Tiancheng has said.


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