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Unlawful Surveys to Be Dealt Severely
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Japanese and Korean scholars were among those fined as a result of 10 investigations into illegal surveys, results of which were published yesterday.

The State Bureau of Surveys and Mapping, which published the investigations' results on its website, reiterated that it would continue to prosecute people who conducted surveys which threatened to reveal State secrets or jeopardized national security.

Last April, two Japanese scholars were fined a total of 80,000 yuan (US$10,300) and deported for collecting information on an airport and water facilities in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The scholars had 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) and collected geographical coordinates for Hetian airport, water facilities and highways.

According to the Xinjiang Surveying and Mapping Bureau, the Japanese scholars drew up maps with data accurate to within 20 centimeters exact enough for military use.

In another case, a joint-funded electronics company in Weihai, east China's Shandong Province, was fined 30,000 yuan (US$3,900) last December for hiring foreign surveyors without approval from the government.

The company rented 167 hectares of land from a town in Weihai. Based on a map provided illegally by local town officials, the company hired South Korean surveyors to conduct surveys and maps on a scale of one to 2,000. The town government was also fined of 50,000 yuan (US$6,500).

In total, surveying and mapping offices across the country tackled 571 illegal surveying and mapping cases in 2006.

The number of foreigners conducting surveys in China is on the rise, the Ministry of Land and Resources has been quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Although it refused to release figures for the total number of such surveys, the ministry said many field projects were carried out illegally, potentially threatening national security.

To address the problem, a new regulation restricting surveying and mapping by foreigners in China will come into effect on March 1 this year.

"The regulation will strengthen management of surveying and mapping by foreign organizations and individuals, protect national security and promote economic and scientific cooperation with other countries," said an official from the State Bureau of Surveys and Mapping.

(China Daily March 7, 2007)

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