In Whose Interest?

"State Security" in China's New Criminal Code

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The National People's Congress took the historic step at its annual session in March of eliminating crimes of "counterrevolution" from the criminal code, a step that at first glance seemed to indicate movement toward greater respect for the rule of law. But in fact, China merely replaced the term with the equally elastic notion of "endangering state security" and actually broadened the capacity of the state to suppress dissent. This report is a detailed analysis of the provisions of China's new law relating to national security concerns, pointing out the changes and additions in the revisions as compared with the 1979 version; gives a brief overview of two other key security laws, the State Security Law and the State Secrets Law, which further elucidate the notion of "endangering state security"; assesses the past use of the crime of "counterrevolution" and points out how the changes in the law are affecting how the state treats dissent. The report also contains several appendices comprising the full texts of some of the laws mentioned in the report and a list of individuals sentenced in the last two years to prison or reeducation through labor for political "crimes."
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