Xinhua: Law Enforcement Should Not Stop People Taking Photos

shooting pictures

A little good news to end the day?

China’s main news agency, Xinhua, just posted a quick commentary which could signal a “sea change” of sorts. To many in China who were confronted by police attempting to stop them taking pictures of a law enforcement event, it could mean the game’s over for the censors — and it’s a case of 1:0 in favour of the masses.

It’s quite obvious some of us in China in uniforms are not exactly everyone’s friends — there was no intention to deliberately point the finger at the pseudo-police Chengguan (city law enforcement agents), but they have often been equated amongst the vox populi as being unruly, ignorant of laws, and the antithesis of being “civil”.

The commentary takes note of a recent event in Taiyuan where a lady who was owed outstanding salaries — and who “died abnormally”, as was reported in the Chinese press. A letter was sent from a Beijing lawyer to authorities in Shanxi (and the city of Taiyuan) to shed more light on the situation and why pictures on mobiles were deleted.

The commentary takes note, in particular, at two rules of note under Chinese law: that the legal private property rights of citizens cannot be violated; and that public officials may be criticised and supervised by the population. In this case, it was wrong for the camera to be taken away and digital images removed; it was also wrong to deny access to commoners wishing to exercise their right of supervision on public officials. These were all taken straight from China’s Constitution.

The commentary concludes that issues on the side of law enforcement, including wilfully breaking rules, a lack of awareness of the law, and a lack of confidence on the side of the officers, comprise of reasons why law enforcement is seen at times to stop people from taking photos. Also mentioned is a lack of fairness and forced, brutal enforcement. It finally states that only by respecting rights the citizenry has, and by staying firm in being “legit” and moral, can officers avoid the burden of critical eyes of the population.

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