Sunday, October 1, 2023

Beijing plans to ban clothing that “offends the feelings” of the population

Clothing that “offends the feelings” of the nation could soon be banned in China, according to a recent bill whose vagueness leaves wide room for interpretation.

The bill stipulates that clothing and speech deemed “harmful to the spirit of the Chinese people” or “offending the feelings” of the nation will be punished by fines or even imprisonment.

However, the text does not precisely define the types of clothing that will be prohibited by this legislation.

In China, people who wear clothing or banners carrying messages deemed politically controversial are already regularly punished for provoking “disputes and riots.”

The project aims to give authorities more power to crack down on any clothing that is perceived as contrary to morality.

In early September, a video shared on Chinese social media showed a man in the southern city of Shenzhen being questioned by police after filming himself in a skirt.

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Many Internet users approved of the police intervention, fearing that this behavior would “make people uncomfortable.”

“It is offensive to common morality,” wrote a user on Weibo, the Chinese social network.

Several lawyers in the country have publicly opposed the bill, whose public consultation period runs until September 30.

It would lead to “a punishment standard that is too vague, which could easily lead to an arbitrary expansion of the scope of administrative sanctions,” Lao Dongyan of Tsinghua University wrote on Weibo.

For similar reasons, Ms. He, a 23-year-old Beijing resident, advocates “establishing carefully considered criteria before submitting such proposals.”

He believes that it will take “more time” to “determine who has the authority to decide and how to make judgments” about crimes that “are not as clear-cut” as a robbery “where what is true and what is false are irrefutable.”

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“Historical reasons”

But, like most people interviewed by AFP in Beijing, He attributes this reform to incidents arising from the wearing of Japanese clothing at historical sites or during commemorative days.

In 2021, the state tabloid “Global Times” claimed that a woman had been “severely criticized” after wearing a kimono in public on December 13, a national day of remembrance for the victims of war crimes committed by Japan in 1937.

Last year, a woman said she was arrested by police while wearing a kimono in the eastern city of Suzhou.

“Dressing is each person’s choice and freedom, but there are also particular (circumstances),” He said, judging that certain “insulting behaviors in front of a statue or on a certain day” are “100% deliberate and must be punished.” “

“If a person wears a kimono… at the memorial to the victims of the Nanjing massacre by the Japanese invaders, I think it would cause significant psychological harm to the Chinese people,” said Yang Shuo, 25. old programmer..

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An act like this “should be punished,” he criticizes.

“There are historical reasons and I think the emotions of the local people should be taken into account,” says Gu, a 35-year-old man.

On the other hand, “in most cases,” the thirty-year-old does not “believe that it is necessary to initiate a procedure.” Like “for example, if a person goes (in a kimono) simply to a shopping street.”

On the other hand, Jeremy Daum, a researcher at Yale’s Paul Tsai China Center, considers “almost certainly that the formulation (of the project) will be strongly modified” to address more precisely “the heroes, the martyrs, the history of the party, after the numerous comments that this text raised.

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