By Jerome A. Cohen
Here is an excellent report from China Change—China’s Little-Noticed ‘New Police Law’ Gives Vastly Expanded Legal Powers to Public Security Apparatus. China Change has done a terrific job in its exegesis, which is worth studying even though frightening.
The fact that this forthcoming new legislation authorizes what has been practice in many places and many respects does not diminish its significance. It is the embodiment of Xi Jinping’s insistence that everything be done “according to law”. It also illustrates how little this slogan means in reality when the law is so vague, broad and permissive as to pose no important restraint on the police. But for those who try to understand what is taking place in a non-transparent society these laws and regulations are useful in helping to confirm what practice already is, can be and is likely to become. China’s Orwellian developments make quite a contrast with the U.S. Supreme Court’s current and continuing struggle to accommodate police needs in an increasingly high-tech world without surrendering the power to restrain what police may properly do in a democratic country.