China’s sensitivities about “state secret”

Published on Author haj18

China’s definition of “state secret” is broad and ambiguous. The handling of information in China has caused problems for foreign nationals. A naturalized U.S. geologist Xue Feng was imprisoned in China for more than seven years for the charges on releasing China’s state secret about the locations of certain oil wells in China. As opposed to Xue’s argument, Chinese government classified the information as state secret.

Though Barack Obama and U.S. Ambassador have attempted to raise the Mr. Xue’s case but efforts did little to resolve the situation. Because of the non-transparency, the long period of investigation, torture, limited access, unfair trial and administrative restrictions to help Mr. Xue failed U.S. government to expedite his discharge.

Other than Mr. Xue, there are several detained foreigners in China but due to above reasons they also have little chance to be discharged. Moreover, families of the accused also have difficulties to decide whether to publicize the case in an effort to improve the situation. These instances highlight Beijing’s deep sensitivities about information it considers secret and also reflects clashes between global investors’ demand on detail about the world’s second biggest economy and China’s efforts to limit access to information.

2 Responses to China’s sensitivities about “state secret”

  1. China’s state secret law is indeed very ambiguous. The vague law covers a wide array of criteria, ranging from “information on soil and air pollution” to “intelligence on China’s national economic and social development.” Unfortunately for the American geologist, he may have unintentionally violated China’s national law.

  2. I’ve not followed this family of issues. My sense is that ethnic Chinese (particularly ones born in China) are much more subject to problems; my recollection is that China still considers them citizens, subject to domestic rules and not able to use the “but how could I know that this public information was secret” defense that someone such as you or I might be able to employ.