VI-7 Question: With the deepening of China's opening up, more and more foreigners want to conduct surveying and mapping in China. What are the government policies on this? What kind of approaches should they adopt? How should they do so as not to violate Chinese laws or regulations?
A: Geographical surveying has been regarded as a sensitive activity by many countries. Hostile forces can use spatial data for missile navigation systems and threaten national security. Spatial data of the location of key facilities, and GIS data in geography, topography, geology and oceanography are confidential and highly guarded by the government.
As China further opens its doors, more foreigners have applied for conducting geographical surveying activities in China. To promote exchanges in economics, technology and culture, and provide guidelines for foreign organizations and individuals to invest in or conduct surveying activities on Chinese territorial land and sea, China released the amendment to the Law of Surveying and Mapping in August 2002. The law regulates geographical surveying activities in China and market access to GIS data. In January 2007, China enacted Interim Measures for the Administration of the Surveying and Mapping Conducted by Foreign Organizations or Individuals in China. The measures entered into force in March 1 2007.
The regulation specifies that foreign organizations or individuals must get approval before conducting geographical surveying activities, no matter whether the surveying activities are research related or recreational. The surveying and mapping by foreign organizations or individuals in the territory of China shall be in the form of Chinese-foreign joint venture and Chinese-foreign contractual cooperation with relevant departments or organizations of China, except for one-off operations. One-off operations of surveying and mapping must be approved by the surveying and mapping administrative department of the State Council, as well as by the military. Foreign organizations or individuals, or the joint ventures or cooperatives shall not engage in geodetic surveying, aerial photographic mapping, administrative area boundary surveying and mapping, hydrographic surveying and mapping; topographic map and general map construction, aero-navigation electronic map construction, or other surveying and mapping activities regulated by the surveying and mapping administrative departments of the State Council. In any case, foreign organizations and individuals must be accompanied by the surveying personnel from relevant departments and organizations of China.
In case of any violation of the above mentioned regulations by foreign organizations and individuals engaging in surveying and mapping activities in China, the surveying and mapping administrative departments of the State Council shall cancel the approval document, order them to stop the surveying and mapping activities, and impose a penalty. The executives with direct responsibility and other persons directly responsible on the Chinese side shall be received administrative discipline from relevant department, and prosecuted if found guilty. The products of such illegal surveying and mapping activities shall be confiscated.