China under President Xi Jinping has been cracking down on foreign citizens in the name of strengthening national security. (Photo by Yusuke Hinata)
Opaque interpretation of law means anybody can be arrested anytime
Chinese authorities have detained a Beijing-based Japanese employee of Japanese pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the man is suspected of engaging in espionage activities and violating the country’s criminal and counterespionage laws.
As was the case in past detentions, the Chinese side has not disclosed what specific actions breached the law. Beijing’s interpretation of the law is extremely opaque, and we call on the government to immediately release the man.
Under President Xi Jinping, China has continued to crack down on foreign nationals in the name of national security. Since 2015, at least 17 Japanese citizens have been detained for allegedly engaging in espionage. These individuals range from geological researchers to trading house employees to academics.
The biggest issue is the lack of clarity on where China’s definition of “national security” begins. This opacity makes it impossible for foreign companies to adequately prepare and train their employees for assignments or business trips to China.
If companies are constantly afraid that their employees could be detained at any time, they will have little option but to refrain from sending staff to China. This could eventually lead to less trade and investment between the neighbors. This hurts Beijing, too, by disrupting its plans for steady economic growth.
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By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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