(Bloomberg) -- China is facing “unprecedented risks and challenges” in safeguarding national secrets, a government agency said, as President Xi Jinping ramps up efforts to more securely protect classified information. 

The admission was made by the National Administration of State Secrets Protection in response to media questions about a recently revised national secrets law, according to a Xinhua News Agency report Wednesday.

“Confidentiality work is facing a more complex and severe situation,” the institution said. “We must unswervingly and consistently uphold the party’s unified leadership on secret-keeping.” 

The statement underscores China’s heightening sensitivity over state secrets, as Xi heralds a “holistic view of national security” that now encompasses 20 fields including biology, nuclear power and data. That could lead to increasing risks for government workers and foreign firms as they contend with the increasingly catch-all definition of national security and state secrets. 

Related: China’s Spy Agency Sees Threats Everywhere in Data Security Push

Previous efforts by Beijing to ramp up the legal framework around protecting sensitive information include expanding an anti-espionage law last year and enacting a sweeping data security law in 2021. On Tuesday, China’s top legislative body updated a law on state secrets, its first revision since 2010. 

While the revisions didn’t expand the scope of what constitutes “state secrets,” they include laying out the long-time principle that the Communist Party is in charge of secret-keeping work, accelerating education efforts on the issue among citizens and civil servants, and encouraging more innovation in secret-keeping technology.  

The legislation also noted in an annex that government departments should protect work secrets — information that isn’t considered a state secret but the disclosure of which would create “certain negative effects” — under a separate set of regulations. The Communist Party introduced rules on work secrets around 2019, and governments from the local to national level have been implementing the measures, according to official statements published online. 

Bloomberg News reported last year that China is stepping up training at government agencies, universities and state-owned enterprises on how to safeguard state secrets. The authorities have also warned civil servants against conducting work via WeChat, as use of the popular social media app increases the risk of secret leaking.

China’s military newspaper said Thursday that the revised law will strengthen the “defense line” for national secrets. It urged soldiers to be on high alert as they could become potential targets of overseas intelligence agencies.

The amended state secrets law will take effect in May.

(Updates with commentary in penultimate paragraph)

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