Great Hall of the People, Beijing (by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons)

The government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has passed a new law criminalizing speech that slanders or defames the military and members of the armed forces.

On Thursday (June 10) the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) passed the “Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding the Status and Rights of Military Personnel” (中华人民共和国军人地位和权益保障法).

The Law reaffirms Beijing’s long-standing policy of viewing the armed forces as a tool for the preservation of the absolute power and leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The Law states:

Soldiers are essential members of the national armed forces under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, they must be loyal to the motherland, loyal to the Chinese Communist Party, listen to the Party’s commands, resolutely obey orders, conscientiously fulfill the important duty and mission of strengthening the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the socialist system (军人是中国共产党领导的国家武装力量基本成员,必须忠于祖国,忠于中国共产党,听党指挥,坚决服从命令,认真履行巩固中国共产党的领导和社会主义制度的重要职责使命) …

Soldiers are the people’s sons and daughters, they shall ardently love the people, whole-heartedly serve the people, protect the people’s lives, property and safety (军人是人民子弟兵,应当热爱人民,全心全意为人民服务,保卫人民生命财产安全).

Read also: Militarism in China’s Political System – The Emergence of Warlords in Late Imperial China and Its Influence on the Chinese Communist Party and the Guomindang

The Law further states that the government must protect the honour of the military and make sure that the population worships the military according to CCP’s precepts:

The country protects the honour of the soldiers, encourages the revering and cherishing of the soldiers and their honour … (国家维护军人荣誉,激励军人崇尚和珍惜荣誉).

The Law stipulates that the “whole society” (全社会) must “study the honourable and glorious history of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army” (学习中国人民解放军光荣历史), and that every school must set up national defence education (国防教育) classes in which the army’s history and the “exemplary deeds of heroes” (英雄模范事迹) are taught.

The Law criminalizes any speech that mocks, slanders or defames the military, i.e. any speech that the CCP regards as a threat to its leadership and to the soldiers who safeguard its leadership by force or the threat thereof:

No organization or individual shall in any way slander or disparage the honour of soldiers, insult or slander their reputation, or purposely damage or sully the military’s glorious symbols (任何组织和个人不得以任何方式诋毁、贬损军人的荣誉,侮辱、诽谤军人的名誉,不得故意毁损、玷污军人的荣誉标识).

On May 31, Qiu Ziming, a Chinese political commentator and blogger, was sentenced to eight months in prison for “defaming heroes and martyrs” after he had questioned the government’s official account of border clashes in the Himalayan region.

The new law thus appears to tighten the regime’s grip on the country’s already heavily censored media, signalling that the CCP will not tolerate any criticism of the armed forces and their use by the CCP to further its agenda.

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