By Amin Amirkia

Last week, the Legal Affairs Office of the State Council issued for public comment a draft proposal (“Proposal”) to the implementation guidelines of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Guarding State Secrets (“State Secrets Law”).

The Proposal addresses various state secrets issues, including security classifications, the qualifications for those in posts involving the handling of state secrets, state secrets confidentiality systems, the supervision and management of state secrets, legal liability, and remedial procedures in handling the leaks of state secrets and related investigations.

Moreover, the Proposal further defines the scope of state secrets by providing a list of circumstances in which the earlier definition of state secrets (i.e. "leak that could harm national security and interests in the fields of politics, economy, defense, foreign affairs") applies.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress promulgated the State Secrets Law in 1988, then promulgated a revised State Secrets Law in 2010. The 2010 revision was largely considered a response to the highly publicized commercial spying case involving Rio Tinto, the multinational metals and mining corporation.

The Legal Affairs Office of the State Council invites the submission of public comments before June 15, 2012.