Skip to content

China’s Plan to Criminalize ‘Hurting National Sentiment’ Draws Widespread Criticism Online

There has been overwhelming criticism online regarding China’s proposed revisions to its Public Security Administration Punishments Law. The revisions would penalize acts that “damage the spirit of the Chinese nation and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.”

The draft revisions, introduced in late August, add several new punishable acts. They do not precisely define what constitutes “damaging the spirit of the Chinese nation.” The proposed revisions prescribe detention of 5-10 days or fines of 1000-3000 yuan for wearing, forcing others to wear, producing, or spreading items or remarks that have such a damaging effect to the national spirit. Harsher penalties apply in severe cases.

After China’s state media reported on the draft law, Chinese social media erupted with skepticism. Opinion leaders called on netizens to lobby the National People’s Congress opposing the legislation.

Shanghai Fudan University professor Qu Weiguo said there is currently no legal definition of “the spirit of the Chinese nation.” He worried that hastily writing such a law without clear boundaries could lead to confusion in enforcement, abuse of related charges, and vulgarization of the “spirit.” Qu questioned how the law could determine whether the “feelings of the Chinese nation” were hurt, since the subject is the entire nation rather than individual citizens. He said authorities should be prudent about codifying such crimes, which require solid evidence. Vague definitions could enable rampant abuse, with serious judicial consequences.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), September 5, 2023