Inciting subversion of state power
Inciting subversion of state power (Chinese: 煽动颠覆国家政权罪; pinyin: Shāndòng diānfù guójiā zhèngquán zuì) is a crime under the law of the People's Republic of China. It is article 105, paragraph 2 of the 1997 revision of the People's Republic of China's Penal Code.
It has frequently been the charge given against political activists, human rights campaigners and government-deemed dissidents within China when they are sentenced to imprisonment. A report by the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) website lists 34 people convicted under this law, many of them for having posted articles on the internet that were critical of the government.
Text of the law
Article 105, Paragraph 2, 1997 Criminal Code of the People's Republic of China (translation by Wei Luo):
"Anyone who uses rumor, slander or other means to encourage subversion of the political power of the State or to overthrow the socialist system, shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years. However, the ringleaders and anyone whose crime is monstrous shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than five years."
1997 UN report
The United Nations "Working Group on Arbitrary Detention" reported on the new law in its 1997 'country visit' to China. It predicted correctly that the vague language of the law would enable it to be used against the 'communication of thoughts or ideas'. A quote from the report:
45. Article 105 is yet another example of a broad and imprecise definition liable to be both misapplied and misused. The article defines the offence it covers as “organizing, scheming and acting to subvert the political power of the State and overthrow the socialist system” and “incitement to subvert the political power of the State and overthrow the socialist system by means of spreading rumours, slander or other means”. The concept of “other means” is open to very broad interpretation.
46. Under Article 105, even communication of thoughts and ideas or, for that matter, opinions, without intent to commit any violent or criminal act, may be regarded as subversion. Ordinarily, an act of subversion requires more than mere communication of thoughts and ideas.
Contrasts with other countries' laws
Gao Mingxuan, one of the editors of 1980 Criminal Code of the People's Republic of China, indicates that each country sets limit on freedom of speech and almost every country has laws to confine crimes in the form of speech, such as England's Treason Act 1351 (last used to prosecute William Joyce in 1945 for collaborating with Germany in World War II), Germany's Strafgesetzbuch § 90b, and 18 U.S.C. §§ 2383–2385.
- The 1997 Criminal Code of the People's Republic of China, Volume 1 of Chinese law series, Laws, etc. (Chinese law series) ; v. 1, by Wei Luo, published by Wm. S. Hein Publishing, 1998, ISBN 1-57588-398-8, ISBN 978-1-57588-398-4, page 73, via books.google.com on 10 10 9
- A report of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (via archive.org) January 8, 2008 “Inciting Subversion of State Power”: A Legal Tool for Prosecuting Free Speech in China
- Report submitted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Addendum Visit to the People's Republic of China, 1997, United Nations pdf link
- Report submitted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Addendum Visit to the People's Republic of China, 1997, United Nations pdf link page 12
- 新华网:"因言获罪"是对刘晓波案判决的误读 (Chinese)