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State Secrets: China's Legal Labyrinth

This report describes and examines China's state secrets system and shows how it allows and even promotes human rights violations by undermining the rights to freedom of expression and information and by maintaining a culture of secrecy that has a chilling effect on efforts to develop the rule of law and an independent civil society.

In addition to an extensive compilation of laws, regulations, and official documents, many in English translation for the first time, this report includes concrete recommendations relating to governance, legislative amendments, and promoting China’s compliance with and implementation of its international human rights obligations.


State Secrets: China's Legal Labyrinth – Table of Contents

Translator's Note


Section I: Into the Legal Labyrinth

The International and Domestic Legal Framework
1. International Norms and Standards
2. The PRC State Secrets Framework
3. Enforcement of the State Secrets System
4. Derogations from Procedural Protections

Impact of the System on Human Rights
1. Impact on the Rule of Law
2. Lack of Transparency and Accountability
3. Undermining Independent Civil Society

Reform Efforts
1. Open Government Information (OGI): Local Initiatives
2. The Right to Know
3. The Declassification of State Secrets
4. Reforms of the State Secrets System
5. The Limits of Reforms
6. Conclusion

Introduction and Section I Notes

Section II: State Secrets Laws and Regulations of the PRC

Editors' Introduction
Main Statutes, Regulations, and Supreme Court Interpretation Governing the State Secrecy System in China
Selected Provisions of Major Laws Involving State Secrets
Four Classified Regulations Pertaining to Law Enforcement and the Judiciary
Regulation on the Protection of State Secrets in News Publishing
Selection of State Secrets Provisions Regulating Specific Activities


Editors' Introduction
Official Documents
Cases Involving State Secrets
Incidents of Official Cover-Ups
Appendices Notes


General Terms
State Bodies
PRC State Secrets Laws and Regulations Cited in this Report