LAW OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA ON GUARDING STATE SECRETS
                                                                                         back

(Adopted at the Third Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Seventh National People's Congress and promulgated by Order No. 6 of the President of the People's Republic of China on September 5, 1988, and effective as of May 1, 1989)

CHAPTER I GENERAL PROVISIONS
CHAPTER II SCOPES AND CATEGORIES OF STATE SECRETS
CHAPTER III SECURITY RULES
CHAPTER IV LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY
CHAPTER V SUPPLEMENTARY PROVISIONS

CHAPTER I GENERAL PROVISIONS

Article 1. This Law is formulated for the purpose of guarding state secrets, safeguarding state security and national interests and ensuring the smooth progress of reform, of opening to the outside world, and of socialist construction.

Article 2. State secrets shall be matters that have a vital bearing on state security and national interests and, as specified by legal procedure, are entrusted to a limited number of people for a given period of time.

Article 3. All state organs, armed forces, political parties, public organizations, enterprises, institutions and citizens shall have the obligation to guard state secrets.

Article 4. The work of guarding state secrets shall be carried out in line with the principle of actively preventing their leak and laying emphasis on priorities so that state secrets are kept while work in all other fields is facilitated.

Article 5. The state secret-guarding department shall be responsible for the guarding of state secrets throughout the country.

The local secret-guarding departments at or above the county level shall, within the scope of their functions and powers, be responsible for the guarding of state secrets in the administrative areas under their jurisdiction.

The central state organs shall, within the scope of their functions and powers, be responsible for and guide the work of guarding state secrets in their own organs and in the departments subordinate to them.

Article 6. State organs at or above the county level and units involving state secrets shall, in the light of their actual conditions, set up bodies or designate personnel to administer the day-to-day work of guarding state secrets within their own organs or units.

Article 7. Units or individuals that have rendered meritorious services in guarding and protecting state secrets and improving techniques and measures in this field of work shall be awarded.

CHAPTER II SCOPES AND CATEGORIES OF STATE SECRETS

Article 8. In accordance with the provisions of Article 2 of this Law, state secrets shall include the following:

(1) secrets concerning major policy decisions on state affairs;

(2) secrets in the building of national defence and in the activities of the armed forces;

(3) secrets in diplomatic activities and in activities related to foreign countries as well as secrets to be maintained as commitments to foreign countries;

(4) secrets in national economic and social development;

(5) secrets concerning science and technology;

(6) secrets concerning activities for safeguarding state security and the investigation of criminal offences; and

(7) other matters that are classified as state secrets by the state secret-guarding department.

Matters that do not conform with the provisions of Article 2 of this Law shall not be state secrets.

Secrets of political parties that conform with the provisions of Article 2 of this Law shall be state secrets.

Article 9. State secrets shall fall into three categories: most confidential, classified and confidential.

The most confidential information refers to vital state secrets, the divulgence of which will cause extremely serious harm to state security and national interests; classified information refers to important state secrets, the divulgence of which will cause serious harm to state security and national interests; and confidential information refers to ordinary state secrets, the divulgence of which will cause harm to state security and national interests.

Article 10. The specific scopes and categories of state secrets shall be stipulated by the state secret-guarding department together with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Public Security and State Security and other central organs concerned.

The specific scopes and categories of state secrets related to national defence shall be stipulated by the Central Military Commission.
Stipulations on the specific scopes and categories of state secrets shall be made known within relevant quarters.

Article 11. State organs and units at various levels shall, in accordance with the stipulations on the specific scopes and categories of state secrets, classify the state secrets arising in these organs and units.

When people are not sure whether a certain matter is a state secret or which category of state secrets it should be classified into, the question shall be determined by the state secret-guarding department, the secret-guarding department of a province, an autonomous region or a municipality directly under the Central Government, the secret-guarding department of a city where the government of a province or an autonomous region is located, the secret-guarding department of a larger city approved by the State Council, or an organ examined and approved by the state secret-guarding department. Pending the classification of the secret, the state organ or unit where the matter has arisen shall initially take security measures in conformity with the category proposed for its classification.

Article 12. The categories of secrecy shall, in accordance with the provisions of Articles 9, 10 and 11 of this Law, be marked on documents and other material that are determined as state secrets. Documents and other material that are not determined as state secrets shall not be marked as such.

Article 13. When differences arise as to whether a matter is a state secret or which category it should be classified into, the question shall be determined by the state secret-guarding department or the secret-guarding department of a province, an autonomous region or a municipality directly under the Central Government.

Article 14. While classifying state secrets, state organs and units shall, in the light of each case, determine the periods for guarding these secrets. Specific measures for determining the periods shall be formulated by the state secret-guarding department.

Article 15. The categories of state secrets and the periods for guarding them shall be altered in the light of changing circumstances. Such alterations shall be decided on by the state organs or units that determined the categories of the secrets and the periods for guarding them or by superior departments.

Article 16. A state secret shall be automatically declassified upon the expiration of the period for guarding it; in cases where it is necessary to extend the period, the matter shall be decided on by the state organ or unit that determined the category of the secret and the period for guarding it or by a superior department.

When it is found, before the expiration of the period for guarding a state secret that it is no longer necessary to guard it as such, it should be declassified without delay by the state organ or unit that determined its category and defined the period for guarding it or by a superior department.

CHAPTER III SECURITY RULES

Article 17. The state secret-guarding department shall formulate security measures regarding the making, receiving, dispatching, transmitting, use, copying, extracting, preservation and destruction of documents and other material and objects that are state secrets.

Measures for storing, drawing, processing and transmitting state secrets by electronic information and other technical means shall be formulated by the state secret-guarding department together with the central organs concerned.

Article 18. Documents and other material and objects that are classified as " most confidential " state secrets must be guarded by the following security measures:

(1) They shall not be copied or extracted without approval by the state organ or unit that determined their categories or by superior departments;

(2) People shall be specially designated and necessary security measures taken for their dispatch, reception, delivery and carrying; and
(3) They shall be kept in perfectly equipped safes.

Security measures shall be taken in accordance with the provisions of the preceding paragraphs, for approved copies or extracts of documents and other material and objects classified as " most confidential " state
secrets.

Article 19. Security measures shall be formulated by the state secret-guarding department, together with the central organs concerned, for the trial manufacture, production, transportation, use, preservation, maintenance and destruction of equipment or goods classified as state
secrets.

Article 20. In the publication and distribution of newspapers, journals, books, maps, material with illustrations and captions, and audio and video products and in the production and broadcast of radio and television programmes and films, the relevant security regulations shall be complied with and no state secrets shall be divulged.

Article 21. When state secrets have to be furnished for the benefits of contacts and co-operation with foreign countries, approval must be obtained beforehand in line with the prescribed procedures.

Article 22. With regard to meetings and other activities that involve state secrets, the sponsor units shall take security measures, explain to the participants the need to guard secrets and set specific requirements for the purpose.

Article 23. Military forbidden zones and places and locations that are state secrets not open to the public shall be protected by security measures; no one may decide to open them to the public or enlarge the area that is open to the public without approval obtained in accordance with the relevant state regulations.

Article 24. No state secrets shall be divulged in private contacts or correspondence.

When carrying documents and other material and objects classified as state secrets on official tours, no one shall go against the relevant security regulations.

No state secrets shall be discussed in public places.

Article 25. Transmission of state secrets through wire or wireless communications shall be protected by security measures.

No state secrets shall be transmitted by plain code or by a secret code that has not been examined and approved by the central organs concerned.

No documents or other material and objects classified as state secrets shall be transmitted by ordinary mail.

Article 26. Without approval by competent departments, no documents or any other material or objects classified as state secret shall be carried, transmitted, posted or transported out of the country's territory.

Article 27. State secrets shall, depending on the circumstances, be accessible only to a certain number of people. The most confidential state secrets shall be accessible only to people who have obtained approval.

Article 28. Personnel to be placed specially in charge of state secrets shall be examined and approved in accordance with the provisions of the state secret-guarding department and the competent personnel department.

Exit from the country's territory by personnel specially in charge of state secrets shall be approved by the organ that approved their appointment. If the competent department under the State Council holds that the exit of any one of them from the country's territory will endanger state security or cause serious damage to national interests, no approval shall be granted for his exit.

Article 29. State organs and units shall conduct education among their personnel in the need to guard secrets and check up on secret-guarding work regularly.

Article 30. State functionaries and other citizens should, upon discovering that state secrets have been divulged or are in danger of being divulged, take remedial measures immediately and promptly report the matter to the state organs and units concerned, which shall, upon receiving such reports, deal with the matter without delay.

CHAPTER IV LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY

Article 31. Persons who, in violation of the provisions of this Law, divulge state secrets intentionally or through negligence, if the consequences are serious, shall be investigated for criminal responsibility in accordance with the provisions of Article 186 of the Criminal Law.

Persons who, in violation of the provisions of this Law, divulge state secrets, if the consequences are not serious enough for criminal punishment, may be given disciplinary sanction in the light of the specific circumstances of each case.

Article 32. Persons who steal, spy on, buy or illegally provide state secrets for institutions, organizations and people outside the country shall be investigated for criminal responsibility in accordance with law.

CHAPTER V SUPPLEMENTARY PROVISIONS

Article 33. The state secret-guarding department shall, in accordance with this Law, formulate measures for its implementation, which shall come into force after being submitted to and approved by the State Council.

Article 34. The Central Military Commission shall, in accordance with this Law, formulate the Regulations of the Chinese People's Liberation Army on the Guarding of Secrets.

Article 35. This Law shall come into force as of May 1, 1989. The Provisional Regulations on Guarding State Secrets promulgated in June 1951 shall be annulled as of the same date.