An exhibitor demonstrates a flash memory system developed by Huawei at the China International Big Data Industry Expo 2019 in Guiyang, southwest China's Guizhou Province, May 26, 2019. (Xinhua/Ou Dongqu)

China passes export law protecting national security, covering tech

China’s top legislature has passed a new law restricting sensitive exports to protect national security. The law, which the National People’s Congress Standing Committee passed on Saturday, comes into effect on December 1 and allows Beijing to “take reciprocal measures” against countries that abuse export controls and pose a threat to national security.

Technical data related to items covered will also be subject to export controls, according to the published text of the law.

Beijing’s latest measure gives it more room to hit back in US President Donald Trump’s war on Chinese tech firms, with the White House moving against popular platforms and major companies — including apps TikTok and WeChat, tech giant Huawei and chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.

The new law, “formulated to safeguard national security and interests”, adds to China’s regulatory toolkit which also involves a restriction catalogue of tech exports and an unreliable entity list.

“Where any country or region abuses export control measures to endanger the national security and interests of the People’s Republic of China, (it) may take reciprocal measures,” the law states.

It adds that Chinese authorities will formulate and adjust an export control list of items to be published in a “timely manner”.

Foreign individuals and groups can also be found liable for violating export control rules.

The economic relationship between Beijing and Washington has been roiled by Trump’s unprecedented campaign of tariffs, threats of bans and sanctions on Chinese tech firms.

With Trump facing a tough re-election campaign ahead of polls next month, US officials have described measures against China as national security safeguards — prompting a reaction from Beijing.