Draft China National Security Laws promote socialist values and censorship

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed at the second reading of new draft Chinese National Security Laws, which sets out a framework for increased controls on the country’s internet infrastructure, but potentially at an even greater cost to fundamental human rights. The IFJ urges all independent civil organizations to submit their opinions to the National People’s Congress by June 5, 2015. The IFJ has already expressed its concern at the overreach of the Chinese Government to control basic human rights under the guise of national security at the first reading of the bill in January 2015. “The second reading and publication of the draft further demonstrates just how far the Chinese government will go to suppress press freedom and other basic human rights,” the IFJ said. Released by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, the second draft of the laws emphasize what it calls “sovereignty in the national internet space” and to prevent the spread of "harmful moral standards" online. The laws also cover a wide range of areas including the protection of the political regime, national unification, territorial integrity, cultural security, strengthening ideology of socialist rule of law and prevention of cyberspace attack. The draft law, which could be passed as early as next year, represents a significant expansion of China’s previous counterespionage law, which it replaces. The full text of the draft, which had its second reading at a National People's Congress Standing Committee session last month, was posted on the legislature's website late on May 6 for public consultation. Amnesty International China researcher, William Nee, said in The South China Morning Post  that the draft would cement many problematic concepts that had little to do with national security, such as maintaining ‘internet sovereignty’ through censorship, defending against ‘unhealthy’ culture and limiting the freedom of religion. IFJ reading of the laws highlight a few areas of concern such as Article 1 of the draft bill which outlines the objective to “maintain national security, to defend the people's democratic dictatorship and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics”. Article 73 of the bill reads: “Strengthen press publicity and public opinion guidance on national security”. The IFJ said: “These laws as they currently read will ultimately empower the party to restrain people’s freedom under the guise of ‘national security’. Article 73 clearly shows that the Chinese government clearly views the role of the media as “propaganda of the Party and the State” which clearly violates the principles of press freedom and the public’s right to know.” All civil Chinese and international organizations should express their views via this link http://www.npc.gov.cn/COBRS_LFYJNEW/user/UserIndex.jsp?ID=6691283 on or before June 5.  

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