Ihe recent raids by the police and by investigators from the administration in charge of trade regulation in consulting companies established in China, to date mainly of Anglo-Saxon origin (Bain, Wind, Mintz, Deloitte, etc.) , raise fears of a general hardening of the business environment in China. It originates from a long process that began in 2011 with the fall of Bo Xilai against his political rival and son of a “red prince” like him, Xi Jinping, the Chinese number one.
The first waves of searches were ordered at the end of 2011. They targeted local economic intelligence firms in business relations with foreign pharmacies and companies operating in China. They were part of a general national security audit, ordered by the rising management team, well aware of the damage caused during the two terms of former Chinese President Hu Jintao by the “foreign influence”to the highest level of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
At the end of the 2000s, a veritable informal market for financial information, good repute of Chinese companies and influence peddling had developed in harmony with the various levels and networks of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security ( MSP), or in contact with former police officers converted into consulting for the benefit of foreign multinationals. It took four years, between 2011 and 2014, to dismantle the mafia pyramid of the MSP, held at its summit by the former member of the permanent committee of the regime’s political bureau and police chief Zhou Yongkang, arrested in December 2014.
The same year, Coface admitted to experiencing difficulties in accessing the information needed to carry out its country risk analyses. 1er November, the first law on counterintelligence was promulgated. In 2016 and 2017, followed the laws on cybersecurity, then on intelligence, including a remarkable article requiring all “body, organization and citizen to provide support, assistance and cooperation necessary for the work of national specialized services” (s. 14).
Information at risk
Until today, half a dozen other laws have been passed to plug the last holes in all areas directly or indirectly affecting national security, a concept encompassing all aspects related to economic and technological development. In parallel, another battle is being waged in the infosphere: in 2021, the National Cyberspace Administration issues a restricted list of accredited media and information platforms. The same year, financial information databases become inaccessible outside of China. Companies operating in China are now forced to restructure their information systems and their software and software application tools.
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