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The Chinese government must scrap a new law aimed at further smothering civil society, Amnesty International said today.

 

China’s National People’s Congress adopted a fundamentally flawed law today governing foreign NGOs and their domestic partners. The new law will have severe consequences for freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, which are already sharply curtailed under existing laws and policies.

 

“The authorities – particularly the police – will have virtually unchecked powers to target NGOs, restrict their activities, and ultimately stifle civil society,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International. 

 

“The law presents a very real threat to the legitimate work of independent NGOs and should be immediately revoked.”

 

The law is the latest in a raft of legislation aimed at bolstering government power under the guise of national security and at the cost of human rights. A sweeping National Security Law, passed in July 2015, defines “national security” in such broad and vague terms that the authorities are essentially given carte blanche.

 

In December of last year, an Anti-Terrorism Law was passed with virtually no safeguards to prevent those who peacefully practice their religion or simply criticize government policies from being prosecuted on broad charges related to “terrorism” or “extremism.”

 

Later this year the authorities may also pass a cybersecurity law. The most recent public draft also contained vague and imprecise terms relating to national security and “maintaining social order” that could be used to restrict freedom of expression even further.