A new regulation restricting surveying and mapping by foreigners will be implemented in China on March 1.
"The regulation will strengthen China's management of surveying and mapping by foreign organizations and individuals, protect national security, and promote economic and scientific cooperation between China and other countries," said an official from the State Bureau of Survey and Mapping on Thursday.
Foreign organizations and individuals who intend to engage in surveying and mapping must obtain approval from the central government and accept supervision from local governments, according to the regulation.
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.
The results of the surveying and mapping are owned by China, and must not be taken and transmitted abroad without legal permission, according to the regulation.
The number of foreigners conducting surveying and mapping in China is on the rise and many field projects have been carried out illegally, which is a threat to national security, said the Ministry of Land and Resources without mentioning the number of such cases.
Last year, two Japanese scholars were fined a total of 80,000 yuan (10,250 U.S. dollars) and deported for mapping the coordinates of an airport and water facilities in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It was feared their results could be used militarily.
According to the State Bureau of Survey and Mapping, 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.