China’s legislature is considering revisions to a law that could result in fines and jail time for individuals who offend the government through their clothing or speech.
About the potential revisions: The proposed changes outlined by the Standing Committee target behavior deemed “detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese people and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people,” without specifying the exact offenses.
Offenders could face detention for up to 15 days or fines of up to 5,000 yuan (approximately $680).
China’s broader crackdown: The potential revisions reflect a broader crackdown on civil liberties under Chinese leader Xi Jinping. In recent years, such crackdowns include the detention of a woman for wearing a kimono in public due to historical tensions between China and Japan, as well as recent incidents involving individuals wearing rainbow-themed shirts or LGBTQ+ flags on university campuses.
Netizens’ concerns: Chinese social media users expressed concerns about the legal changes, questioning how authorities would determine when Chinese sentiments are hurt. Some believe that the proposed law could lead to arbitrary punishment.
“Shouldn’t the spirit of the Chinese nation be strong and resilient?” one person asked. “Why can it be easily damaged by a costume?”