China will add its assets and activities in space, the deep sea and polar regions to its pending national security law, state media has said – the latest changes to the sweeping and controversial draft legislation.
The President, Xi Jinping, who heads a newly established National Security Commission, has said China’s security covers a wide array of areas, including politics, culture, the military, the economy, technology and the environment.
“Some standing committee members, participants and departments suggested that in space, the deep sea, polar regions and other strategic new frontiers, China has real and potential major national interests and faces security threats and challenges,” the official Xinhua news agency said.
China would therefore “peacefully explore and exploit” space, international seabed areas and polar regions, and strengthen the security of “activities, assets and other interests” there, Xinhua said.
It is unclear what the wording of the final law will cover.
China insists that its space programme has peaceful purposes. But the US Defence Department has highlighted its increasing space capabilities, saying it is pursuing aims to keep adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.
China has also sought to become more active in the Antarctic and Arctic, where it says it has important research and energy interests.
Foreign business groups and diplomats have argued that the draft national security law, which could be adopted after a third reading over the next week by China’s top legislative committee, is too broad and vague.
“Harmful moral standards”, for example, would also be handled under the law, state media said after its second reading in April by the National People’s Congress standing committee, a group of about 200 members led by the ruling Communist Party.
Provisions to tighten cyber security are also core to the pending law, and foreign technology firms are concerned that language calling for the use of “secure and controllable” products could force them out of the market.