China will step up supervision of foreigners who conduct surveys and map areas of the country.
Foreign organizations and individuals, who engage in surveying and mapping in scientific research and teaching programs, travel or exploration, must obtain approval from the government and accept supervision, the State Bureau of Survey and Mapping said.
The number of foreigners conducting surveying and mapping in China is on the rise and many field projects have been carried out illegally, which have threatened the security of the country, according to the state bureau.
The Chinese law on surveying and mapping states that foreigners must cooperate with a Chinese partner and the activities must not involve state secrets or jeopardize national security.
Earlier this year, two Japanese scholars were fined a total of 80,000 yuan (10,000 U.S. dollars) and deported for collecting materials and coordinates of an airport and water facilities in the western Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The scholars arrived in Beijing in September, 2005, with a Japanese tour group. They broke away from the group a week later and hired two translators in Hetian, a southern prefecture in Xinjiang.
They set up a Global Positioning System (GPS) on the roof of a local family, acquaintances of one of the translators, and collected geographical coordinates of the Hetian airport, water facilities and highways.
According to the Xinjiang Surveying and Mapping Bureau, the equipment the two Japanese scholars used maps data to within 20 centimeters, exact enough for military use.
The two scholars, who worked for the Japanese geographical survey intelligence institute, were on an ecological research program with Xinjiang University but the permission paper expired in 2001.
The bureau notice said that foreigners who illegally survey, gather and publish geographical information on China will be severely punished.
Chinese partners or translators will be fined if they fail to stop illegal mapping activities as soon as they find out about them.
Details of regulations on how foreigners can conduct surveying and mapping in China will be announced soon by the State Bureau of Survey and Mapping.