Once designated by the Ministry as being responsible for anti-espionage work, entities must vet and train personnel, particularly ahead of any foreign trips, after which they must be debriefed about any national security issues — essentially treating a broad range of bodies, including potentially universities and private businesses, as if they are sensitive government agencies.
Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst and expert on Chinese foreign policy at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said Beijing “is wanting to bring commercial companies, universities, media and think tanks even more under government control to monitor and report the activities of Western entities operating in China, so this makes it more challenging for Western companies to do business than it already is.”
He said it remains to be seen, “to what extent will these rules be enforced extra-territorially, so that Chinese companies and entities, as well as individuals are required to observe them even if they are operating beyond China’s borders.”
Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat who worked for the International Crisis Group (ICG), is accused by the Chinese authorities of “stealing sensitive information and intelligence through contacts in China since 2017,” while Spavor, a businessman based in Beijing with a focus on North Korea, is accused of providing intelligence to Kovrig.
While scant on details about Beijing’s alleged espionage activities, the report warned the Communist Party “will continue its whole-of-government efforts to spread China’s influence, undercut that of the United States, drive wedges between Washington and its allies and partners, and foster new international norms that favor the authoritarian Chinese system.”