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China: Foreign NGO law a 'very real threat to the legitimate work of independent NGOs'

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

China’s National People’s Congress today adopted a fundamentally flawed law 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.  

William Nee, Amnesty’s China Researcher, said:

“The authorities – particularly the police – will have virtually unchecked powers to target NGOs, restrict their activities, and ultimately stifle civil society.

“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 practise their religion or simply criticise government policies from being prosecuted on broad charges related to “terrorism” or “extremism”.

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

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