I'm struggling to understand the current Chinese law on bringing encrypted devices into China.

Would it be illegal for someone to bring their work laptop encrypted with BitLocker into China to work abroad? Assume that they refuse to decrypt / turn off BitLocker temporarily to satisfy any requests.

There are articles such as: https://www.thetravelblogs.com/encrypted-laptop-travel-restrictions/ that mention the "Wassenaar Arrangement", but I don't understand if the new law, cited below, is affected by this. Supposedly China doesn't "subscribe" to the "Wassenaar Arrangement", and so maybe an import license is required? But, I'm thinking it's old news (see older news from 2017 at end of this post).

  1. China enacted Encryption Law on 10/26/2019, which took effect on 1/1/2020: https://www.cov.com/-/media/files/corporate/publications/2019/10/china_enacts_encryption_law.pdf
  2. A write-up from a secure drive company on above bullet-point, but it didn't clear it up for me: https://www.securedrive.com/blog/china-passes-regulations-on-data-encryption
  3. a PDF of https://www.chinalawtranslate.com/en/cryptography-law/ (PDF created since this required a login for me to read): https://docdro.id/dcafIlX

Some older news on this:

  1. from 2017: https://www.cov.com/-/media/files/corporate/publications/2017/10/china_revises_rules_on_commercial_encryption_products.pdf
  2. also from 2017: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/can-i-travel-internationally-my-encrypted-phone-marco-mazzeschi
  • This a question about what the law in China requires or permits. It should not be closed as a request for specific legal advice. – David Siegel Apr 8 at 15:30
  • 1
    A surprising number of countries have official encryption restrictions although not all are heavily enforced (France for example). In general, when traveling to another country, you are at a disadvantage, be prepared to open/reveal/decrypt your digital media. Carry clean devices for your own safety. Some organizations require physical destruction of the devices upon return from designated regions, such as China. – user10216038 Apr 8 at 21:55
  • @user10216038 source for your response? it's good to have some documentation, as some people have nation bias and spread undocumented info. – Matthew Kooshad Apr 9 at 14:01
  • @Matthew Kooshad - Personal experience, sorry nothing I can link. – user10216038 Apr 9 at 16:07
  • The bit about risks was sort of a request for legal advice, so I rephrased it. It's definitely not a request for legal advice now. – Ryan M Apr 9 at 22:13

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