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Penalties rise for illegal mapping

By Cao Yin | China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-28 07:44

In an effort to protect national security, China has strengthened its oversight of foreigners and foreign organizations involved in geological surveys or mapping in the country, according to the top legislature.

An amendment to the Surveying and Mapping Law, which was passed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Thursday, provides heavy punishments for foreigners or foreign organizations that illegally acquire geological data.

"With fast developments in recent years, many people and organizations overseas have begun collecting our information - economic, military and geological," said Yue Zhongming, deputy director of the office for legislative planning under the committee's Legal Affairs Commission.

Under the revised law, foreigners or foreign organizations that want to do surveying or otherwise collect geological data should get a permit from the State Council and military authorities, while those involved in long-term mapping should cooperate with the nation's government departments.

If they don't abide by the law, foreign violators will be subject to fines of at least 100,000 yuan ($14,510) - double the past penalty of 50,000 yuan.

Anyone who seriously violates the revised law can be fined up to 1 million yuan or even ordered to leave the country.

"Such punishments aim to deter those illegally getting our important geological data, especially data that involves State secrets," Yue said.

Song Chaozhi, deputy director of the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation, said that illegal mapping involving foreigners has been frequent in the past few years. The amendment is designed to curb such misconduct, Song said.

In a case disclosed by the administration in 2010, a Japanese citizen was found illegally collecting geological information in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region while professing to be there for travel and environmental investigations.

After local residents reported the activity, the person was fined and his mapping results and tools were confiscated, the administration said.

"We're planning to improve the guideline in accordance with the amendment, which will take effect on July 1," Song said.

He Yehui, a member of the committee, applauded the amendment, but said the legislature should write specific rules on the management of foreigners and organizations.

"Mapping and surveying relate to our safety. If we have no practical rules, it will be easier for those with bad intentions to use legal loopholes to harm our State security," she said.

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