Xinhua Cites Legal Scholar as Saying China Lacks Sufficient Legal Basis to Prosecute Internet Crime

September 27, 2004

Lu Jianping, a professor at China's People's University, is quoted in a Xinhua article as saying that, while it is possible to use China's regulations on crimes relating to national security to address subversion on the Internet, practice has shown that crimes like this generally cause greater harm to society when they are committed via the Internet. Professor Lu therefore expressed the belief that such crimes should be brought within a distinct "Internet crime" framework. Professor Lu stated that China is currently behind some developed nations in its Internet crime legislation activities, and that he believed Chinese criminal law experts would use international exchanges, such as the International Criminal Law Conference which recently convened in Beijing ( co-sponsored by the International Association of Penal Law and the Chinese Law Society), to introduce foreign trends into Chinese Internet crime legislation.

While it is encouraging that legal scholars are interested in looking at foreign models to China's improve regulation of the Internet, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China notes that China's government currently exploits the national security laws on its books to restrict freedom of expression on the Internet. Any reform of China's Internet crime laws based on foreign models should therefore take into account not only how those countries punish Internet crime, but also how they protect the exercise of Constitutionally guaranteed rights, which in China include the right to free speech and a free press.

Xinhua has posted an English language version of this article, but the translation makes no mention of Professor Lu's references to subversion.