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New National Security Law in China suppresses media freedom

This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 2 July 2015.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses strong concern for the National Security Law that was passed by the Chinese National People's Congress on 1 July 2015. The law was passed without giving any consideration to the submission made to the Standing Committee by the IFJ, Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and the Independent Commentators Association (ICA).

On 6 May, the Standing Committee released the National Security Law (Second Review Draft) for public consultation. The IFJ said in its submission that the law, if enacted and implemented in its current form, would further suppress the media, access to information and press freedom. The IFJ, HKJA and ICA also made a joint submission for the law on June 3.

The submission made by the IFJ highlighted key changes that needed to be made by the Standing Committee to ensure press freedom and freedom of expression were not jeopardized. One of the key issues highlighted the vague definitions included in the law such as 'unlawful or harmful information' and 'negative cultural seepage'. Vague definitions such as these create uncertainty and opportunities for violations against the media. The submission also suggested that 'strengthen press publicity and public opinion guidance on national security' should be deleted from Article 73 as it would violate press freedom.

The joint submission from the IFJ, HKJA and ICA suggested that the references made to Hong Kong and its duty to protect national security be deleted as Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China and such clauses violate China's One Country Two Systems governing of Hong Kong.

HKJA, ICA and IFJ expressed deep concern, as the new National Security Law could become the landmark case for the Central Authority of China to destroy One County Two Systems of Hong Kong. We urge Hong Kong Government to take up the responsibility to demand the Central Government of China to clarify those of the ambiguity and concerns.

The IFJ Asia Pacific office said "The new National Security Law places the media in a sensitive position, becoming increasingly susceptible to violations under the guise of 'national security'. The new law works to destroy the basic principles of press freedom and undermine the rights of the people to information."

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