Beijing backtracks on a law punshing clothing that hurts ‘the feelings of the Chinese people’ after a public outcry

Beijing backtracks on a law punshing clothing that hurts ‘the feelings of the Chinese people’ after a public outcry

Beijing is backing down from a law that would have punished those wearing clothes that “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people” amid a public backlash.

In September, the standing committee of the National People’s Congress published draft legislation that would, among other things, outlaw speech and dress deemed to criticize the Chinese nation or people. Those found guilty could be detained for up to 15 days or fined 5,000 yuan ($688). The law was proposed amid an increased emphasis on patriotism by the Chinese government.

The proposal caused public outcry, due to the vagueness of what hurting “the feelings of the Chinese people” could mean. Just a week after the draft law was published, 90,000 people had submitted almost 110,000 suggestions, according to state media outlet China Daily. Legal experts quoted in the Global Times, another state media outlet, called for the terms to be clarified in legislation.

Beijing is now prepared to revise the law, reports Legal Daily, a Chinese-language outlet associated with the Communist Party of China. The outlet acknowledged the subjective nature of hurting “the feelings of the Chinese people,” and concerns that law enforcement could abuse such a rule.

Experts pointed to a case in August 2022 where Chinese police officers briefly detained a woman for wearing a kimono, a traditional Japanese clothing. She was charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble;” she later apologized for “hurting our nation’s feelings,” according to the South China Morning Post.

Last September, uniformed officers asked a woman to leave a park in Wuhan, after her clothes were mistaken for a Japanese kimono.

Nationalism in China

Analysts have previously noted that younger Chinese are more nationalist than their predecessors, and are more willing to defend the country against alleged slights. Consumers are increasingly turning to domestic brands and rejecting foreign brands that have allegedly insulted China through their actions.

But not all Chinese companies benefit from more patriotic shoppers.

Earlier this year, nationalists accused Chinese bottled water company Nongfu Spring of using Japanese imagery on its products. Convenience stores pulled Nongfu’s products off the shelves, and social media users called upon shoppers to buy from a rival brand instead. Nongfu lost about 30 billion Hong Kong dollars ($3.8 billion) in market value in just two weeks.

Even Huawei, China’s tech champion, isn’t immune. Nationalists attacked the firm’s choice to name its homegrown processor “Kirin,” the Japanese name for a mythical beast.