China is implementing stricter regulations targeting weather agencies with foreign connections on the basis of national security concerns.
China’s Ministry of State Security said Tuesday (Oct 31) that it detected hundreds of illegal meteorological facilities around the country, that were set up in sensitive areas, including nearby military bases, industries and grain-producing regions.
It suggested that the stations were directly funded by foreign governments; however, it stopped short of naming the countries.
China’s security officials are “investigating and dealing with the relevant illegal activities,” it said.
China says these meteorological sites posed a serious threat to the country’s national security as some of them transmitted real-time data at high frequency.
As of now, China has immediately blocked the export of meteorological data as the investigation continues.
So far, the government authorities have investigated more than 10 overseas meteorological equipment agents and inspected more than 3,000 foreign-funded stations.
China dubs activities ‘illegal’
Chinese agencies believe some of the activities conducted by these weather stations were violating China’s data law, which went into effect in 2021.
It must be noted that foreign embassies and weather agencies gather meteorological data from the country, something China has started considering critical to its national security.
The data becomes even more important as harsh weather conditions impact agricultural yield in the country, which has grave ramifications for the world’s second-largest economy.
China believes the actions by weather agencies and foreign embassies to collect weather data are not in the spirit of diplomacy. It also claims that air-quality standards followed in China are different from what is followed in the West, thus reflecting a flawed picture of the ground reality.
China in the past has restricted foreign access to its weather data, sometimes even going as far as preventing its weather department from releasing air-quality information. It must be noted that China’s crackdown on foreign “weather agents” comes at a time when the US embassy in the Chinese capital posted data it gathered on Twitter, helping to raise public awareness of the issue.