China enacted its first National Security Law in 1993, which focused on issues relating to espionage activities. That law was replaced by the Counterespionage Law in 2014 with updated rules that more closely targeted foreign spies — as well as Chinese individuals and organizations who collaborate with them.
In 2015, China passed a sweeping new National Security Law covering a much wider array of areas, including, but not limited to defense, politics, the economy, the environment, technology, cyberspace, outer space, culture, ideology and religion.
But long before the new National Security Law went into effect, the Chinese government had been throwing dissidents, activists, human rights lawyers and journalists in jail for national security crimes — a trend that has only intensified under Xi’s crushing crackdown on activism and dissent.
Jailed on national security grounds
Known as “Document No.9,” it revealed the Chinese Communist Party’s ideological battle plan to counter advocates of constitutional democracy, banning public discussions on topics ranging from press freedom, civil rights to judicial independence.
In November 2015, Gao’s term was reduced to five years, and was allowed to serve her sentence outside prison on medical grounds. She also served more than five years in jail in the 1990s on similar charges.
In 2017, lawyer Jiang Tianyong was sentenced to two years in jail for “inciting subversion of state power,” and human rights activist Wu Gan was handed a jail term of eight years for “subverting state power.”
Non-mainland Chinese citizens have also been imprisoned for national security crimes. Taiwanese pro-democracy activist Lee Ming-che, for example, was sentenced in 2017 to five years in prison for “subverting state power.”