China adopts new law banning defamation of military personnel

China has passed a new legislation that bans defamation of military personnel, adding an array of legal tools to its 2018 law under which a Chinese popular blogger was punished recently for defaming PLA soldiers killed in last year’s clash with the Indian Army at the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.

The legislation, which was adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on Thursday, states that no organisation or individual may in any way slander or derogate the honour of servicemen, nor may they insult or slander the reputation of members of the armed forces, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The new legislation also bans the desecration of plaques in honour of military personnel.

Prosecutors can file public interest litigation in cases of defamation of military personnel and the infringement on their legitimate rights and interests that have seriously affected their performance of duties and missions and damaged the public interests of society, according to the new law.

The new law adds to an array of legal tools that already ban defamation of revolutionary martyrs , including revisions to the country’s criminal code and a 2018 Law on the Protection of Heroes and Martyrs, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

Commenting on the new law, Song Zhongping, a former PLA instructor and Hong Kong-based military affairs commentator said the legislation which also covers families of service personnel was meant to bolster the People’s Liberation Army’s sense of mission.

Previously, our legal instruments were not complete and this new law will provide more comprehensive protection for the rights and honours of our soldiers, Song told the Post.

[We must recognise] that military conflicts in the future could be very intensive, and ensuring that the military is well respected in society is very important, he said.

On May 31, an internet celebrity in China was sentenced for “defaming” Chinese soldiers killed in a clash with Indian troops at the Galwan Valley last year.

Qiu Ziming, who had over 2.5 million followers, received an eight-month jail term, the state-run Global Times reported on June 1.

This was the first reported case of a suspect being charged after China passed a new law in 2018 which stipulates that it is illegal to defame the country’s heroes and martyrs.

Qiu, known as “Labixiaoqiu” online, was also ordered to publicly apologise through major domestic portals and the national media within 10 days to eliminate the negative impact, a court in Nanjing, East China’s Jiangsu province ruled.

While the Indian Army quickly announced that 20 of its personnel were killed in the clash with Chinese soldiers on June 15 last year, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) took some eight months to reveal that it had lost four of its military personnel and one officer was injured.

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