ICC Note: This new Chinese law defines national security very broadly, and is likely to be used as a pretext for the imposition of more restrictions on the growing Christian church in China, which is often erroneously viewed as a “threat” to security. ICC will continue to monitor the situation.
By Qiao Long and Yang Fan
07/01/2015 China (Radio Free Asia)
China’s parliament adopted stringent new laws on Wednesday that broaden the definition of “national security” to include sovereignty over the country’s tightly controlled Internet, strategic industries and domestic unrest, official media reported.
The law claims sovereignty over Chinese “activities and assets” in outer space, in the depths of the ocean and in sensitive polar regions, and sets up a national “security review and regulatory system … to censor items that have or may have an impact on national security,” the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The new law was passed in response to what National People’s Congress (NPC) standing committee member Zheng Shuna described as growing pressure from within and without, the agency said.
“We are under dual pressures,” Zheng told a news conference in Beijing.
“Externally speaking, the country must defend its sovereignty, security and development interests, and internally speaking, it must also maintain political security and social stability,” Zheng said.
The new law defines as a national security matter anything that threatens China’s government, territorial sovereignty, unity, as well as its economy and the “well-being” of its people, Xinhua said.
National security means that all of the interests of the country, defined as the People’s Republic of China under the ruling Chinese Communist Party, are “comparatively in a state of being in no danger and free of any threat from both within and without, and that the aforementioned state can be constantly guaranteed.”
As the law passed in the NPC, police detained dozens of people on Tiananmen Square who arrived in a bid to complain about the government.
The new national security law comes after a nationwide system used for keeping track of critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, including petitioners, was upgraded to the status of a national-level policy in 2014.
The nationwide surveillance system now actively targets civil society for control and suppression, and has strengthened ‘grid’ surveillance to exert and maintain social control, rights activists have said.
In March 2014, Premier Li Keqiang also announced a rise in the domestic security, or “stability maintenance,” budget to 205 billion yuan (U.S. $33 billion), although Beijing has since kept the domestic security spending figures secret.
The new law also appears to imply that anything threatening Communist Party rule is also judged to be a threat to state security, a principle which rights activists say is frequently seen in practice but which is seldom codified.