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China criminalizes defamation of revolutionary heroes

April 27, 2018

The bill is the latest in a string of laws passed by the government to assist in maintaining a crackdown on dissent. Under the law, denial of the actions of heroes and martyrs and praise of invasions on China are banned.

People in China honor what would've been Mao Zedong's 120th birthday
Image: Reuters

China's ruling Communist Party on Friday passed a law that makes criticizing revolutionary heroes and martyrs illegal.

Under the "Heroes and Martyrs Protection Law" it is prohibited to misrepresent, defame, profane or deny the deeds and spirits of heroes and martyrs, or to praise or beautify invasions," according to the official Xinhua news agency's summary of the law.

Those who do so will be punished in accordance with the law and may be investigated for criminal responsibility, Xinhua reported.

Read more: Will China's regulator reshuffle turn all state media into propaganda?

Specific penalties that may be handed out under the law were not specified in the statement announcing the law's passing, but it said violators would be pursued by authorities.

The law bans criticism or questioning of the folklore surrounding the 1949 formation of the People's Republic by Communist revolutionaries, and forbids acts that glorify historical events considered unpatriotic, such as Japan's 20th century invasion of China.

Historian ordered to apologize

The law stemmed from a 2016 case, when a Beijing court ordered a historian to apologize for two essays written in 2013 that questioned if the story of the "Five Heroes of Langya Mountain" — Communist soldiers who jumped to their death from a mountain peak instead of surrendering to Japanese troops — really happened.

Since coming into power in 2012, President Xi Jinping has introduced a number of laws intended to protect China and the ruling party from internal and external threats, as well as maintaining a crackdown on dissent and free speech.

Read more: Opinion: Xi Jinping – China's Great Helmsman 2.0

Along with calling for tighter ideological discipline across society and more patriotic education, Xi has even gone as far as adding his name and his political philosophy to the party's constitution.

"Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era," is set to be enshrined alongside that of Mao Zedong, the founder of modern communist China. Former President Deng Xiaoping had his name added after his death.

Academics who have criticized Mao have been silenced or sacked, while propaganda authorities have rolled out a series of media campaigns reminding China's citizens of the party's historical accomplishments.

law/rt (AP, Reuters)

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