Alert: Anti-terrorism measures for ships calling at ports in China

The Club wishes to bring to Members' attention that during the recent XIX Party Congress in Beijing, the local authorities in China implemented enhanced security measures at all ports. We were aware of a number of cases where crew members were required by local authorities to surrender their mobile phones or other electronic devices for inspection when ships call at ports in China. Those inspections appeared to have been conducted at random, of if a ship was specifically identified as posing a security threat.

Although the XIX Party Congress has now closed, a further incident of a crew member being detained by the local authorities for having unlawful materials on his laptop has just been reported to the Club. It therefore appears that the security measures brought in during the recent Party Congress, albeit at a moderated level, may continue to be applied and become part of routine inspection of ships and their crew members when ships call at ports in China.

The legislative framework for such inspections is complex but it basically derives from China's national security legislations, specifically article 27 of "The People's Republic of China Regulations on Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection";


The Club's local correspondent, Huatai Insurance Agency & Consultant Service Ltd, recommends that crew members delete from their electronic devices any sensitive information or images which might be regarded as unlawful before calling at ports in China. It should be remembered that China prohibits images and information which might be regarded by the authorities as immoral or posing a security threat.

Members are requested to remind their crew members to take the precautionary steps recommended by Huatai above when their ships call at ports in China. In the event that sensitive information is found, the penalty applied may be from the relevant Chinese regulation or law. In a case in which Huatai was involved, fines were imposed on the ship owner under article 80(2) of the Counter-Terrorism Law. (See the link below). The crew members were also detained in that case and it is therefore not unforeseeable that ship's operations may be affected.

The Chinese Counter-Terrorism Law has been in force since 1 January 2016. It has 10 chapters and 97 articles giving public state organs wide powers to investigate suspected terrorist activities.

One of the definitions of a terrorist activity is unlawfully possessing items that advocate terrorism (article 3). In the event of a violation, a penalty of 10 to 15 days detention and a concurrent fine of up to RMB10,000 may be imposed (Article 82). Public security organs are empowered to gather and collect relevant information and materials in their investigation of suspected terrorist activities (Article 51). The Law contains provisions for the public security organs to interrogate, check on, or summon suspected persons, and to collect from them and to store their images, finger prints, iris imagings, other physiological identifying information and biological samples of blood, urine and others. (Article 50).

Please do not hesitate to contact the Club and the Club's local correspondent for assistance if a problem arises.

Source of Information

Margaret Zhou/Helen Huang

Thomas Miller Hong Kong

Staff Author