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Monday, 10 August 2009

Beijing Confidential

When is information in the public domain not public any more? When it relates to Chinese economic or social development.

Rio Tinto have been accused by the Chinese government of engaging in industrial espionage, probably the greatest example ever of black pots and kettles, and 4 RT employees have been arrested.

However, it appears that the issue may be complicated by China’s laws on the protection of state secrets, which as one would expect from a totalitarian state, give maximum flexibility to state officials and very little to private or corporate citizens.

It seems that the law has empowered Chinese state officials to classify public information as “secret” if it is related to economic and social development or “other issues”.


Steven_L said...

Are our laws any different in theory?

The Inteligence Services Act 1994 states:

"The functions of the Intelligence Service shall be exercisable ... in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom"

The Regulation of Investigatory Power Act also allows spying by police and intelligence services "for the purpose of safeguarding the economic well-being of the United Kingdom"

The Freedom of Information Act 2000exempts disclosure that would prejudice "the economic interests of the United Kingdom or of any part of the United Kingdom" or "the financial interests of any administration in the United Kingdom".

Alex said...

There is quite a difference between giving the police and security services powers in those areas and arbitrarily declaring that economic facts are state secrets.