The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) last week passed a law banning “defamation” or “insults” to military personnel.
The measure was passed following the arrest of blogger for posting about People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers during border clashes with Indian troops.
The law bans organizations or individuals from “slandering or derogating the honor of servicemen [and women], nor may they insult or slander the reputation of members of the armed forces.”
A report from Xinhua news agency said police officers and members of the People’s Armed Police are also included in the ban.
Any “infringement of the legitimate rights and interests” of military personnel seriously affecting their performance of their duties is also covered by the new legislation.
Honors obtained by a soldier are to be enjoyed for life, while schools are required to teach “the glorious history of the PLA and the heroic and exemplary deeds of soldiers.”
Radio Free Asia said in a report that the law comes after blogger Qiu Ziming, who had more than 2.5 million followers on social media, was jailed for eight months for “defaming martyrs.”
It was the first case since changes to the law were made earlier this year banning insults or defamation of revolutionary heroes and martyrs.
In September 2016, a blogger was asked to make a public apology after he challenged the story of Qiu Shaoyun, a soldier in the Korean War (1950-53).
“This is all about wielding comprehensive power and control over the whole of our society, especially over our speech and our thoughts,” Radio Free Asia quoted Zhejiang-based writer Sun Dasheng.
The writer said the new law increases controls on public speech and freedom of expression. “They want to control people’s mouths and brains,” he said.
He said the CCP has become far more open about its attempts to control public speech.
“They used to arrest people secretly, but now they are making public announcements with great fanfare, to scare people,” Sun said.
The social media platform WeChat quickly moved to warn account-holders that they would face a permanent ban if they violated the new law. – with a report from Radio Free Asia