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Protection of Freedom of Expression by the Chinese Law
November 26,2014   By:chinahumanrights.org

PROTECTION OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION BY THE CHINESE LAW

Wang Sixin

China

Article 35 of the Constitution of China specifies: Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration. Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights include the identical provisions. In the Report to the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), General Secretary Hu Jintao of the CPC Central Committee clearly pointed out that we should truly safeguard the people's right to freedom of expression. The right to freedom of expression includes the commonly known freedom of speech, of the press and of news, as well as the right to the behaviors of expressing one's own political viewpoints and opinions through posters and slogans.

This thesis introduces how the Constitution of China recognizes and protects freedom of expression, as well as the relevant provisions of the department laws on freedom of expression. The last part of this thesis gives a brief account of the human-rights standards for freedom of expression.

I. The Constitutional position of freedom of expression

Article 2 of the Constitution of China specifies: All power in the People's Republic of China belongs to the people. It indicates that in China, the people are owners and executors of the state power; and the people have the right to singly or collectively administer the state affairs, the economic and cultural undertakings, and other public affairs through various forms and channels according to law. Practicing the political rights and freedom of speech and the press is one of the rights. According to Article 35 of the Constitution of China, citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.

Freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration as prescribed in Article 35 of the Constitution of China jointly form the political rights and freedom enjoyed by citizens of China, i.e., citizens enjoy the freedom to state clearly their attitude toward and express opinions and viewpoints on the state and social public affairs. It includes the freedom to exercise these rights in the individual way, as well as the collective way. Citizens can express their viewpoints and opinions through publishing works, or give voice to their own political views through the improvisational and short assembly, procession and demonstration.

Though Article 35 of the Constitution does not include the term “freedom of expression,” it contains various rights and freedom involving the normal operation of the modern democratic society; hence we can regard this group of rights and freedom as the right to freedom of expression, and name Article 35 of the Constitution as the article on freedom of expression. This term can not only avoid inconvenience in understanding brought forth by different terminologies because of different connotations and extensions, but also discuss various rights and freedom recognized and protected by Article 35 of the Constitution according to the same criterion. In addition, a group of rights and freedom prescribed in Article 35 of the Constitution defined as freedom of expression is in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the provisions prescribed in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.