A resident in Chongqing presents a flower to commemorate martyrs at a Gele Mountain Cemetery of Revolutionary Martyrs in Southwest China on April 6, 2018. (Photo/Xinhua)
China's top legislature on Friday unanimously passed a law to protect the reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs.
The law, adopted at the bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, will take effect on May 1.
The law promotes patriotism and socialist core values. It stipulates that those who appropriate, damage or contaminate memorials, or insult or slander heroes and martyrs, may receive administrative penalties from public security bureaus or even criminal sanctions.
The law also outlaws acts to glorify invasions, with offenders facing administrative or criminal punishments according to the severity of their actions.
The adoption of the law follows a string of cases in recent years in which some individuals in China have slandered or denigrated heroes and martyrs via the internet, magazines and other media in the name of "academic freedom", "restoring history" or "probing into details", according to the NPC Standing Committee.
The public has also been angered to see behaviors deemed to glorify Japan's invasion of China in the 1930s. In a recent case, two men received 15-day administrative detentions for posing for pictures online dressed in Imperial Japanese military uniforms in front of a memorial site in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, in February.
"Without the sacrifice of the heroes and martyrs, there would be no New China nor today's life," said Yue Zhongming, director of the legislation planning office of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee.
He said academic research and freedom of speech have boundaries and a bottom line－not to defame others. "The law protects normal academic research but defaming heroes and martyrs must bear legal responsibilities," he said.
Given that many heroes and martyrs have no close family members, the law also allows prosecutors to launch public interest litigations if necessary.
Yue said students will also receive more education about stories of heroes and martyrs so that they will have a better understanding of history.