The proposed law prods governments to release information in a "uniform,
accurate and timely manner," and violation may result in administrative
punishments such as "a demerit or a serious demerit" of government officials, or
even removal from office.
Amendment VI of the Criminal Law, which was adopted by the NPC Standing
Committee last week, allows a maximum seven-year jail sentence for officials.
"This provision will not have any adverse effect on the regular reporting of
emergencies by news media. It will, on the contrary, help enhance the accuracy
and authority of such information, making news media more accountable," said
He said the original intention of the legislation was to "prevent certain
news media from disseminating groundless news or rumours, or reporting false
information which may mislead the public and cause social panic."
Wang added that the fines are applicable "only when the circumstances are
serious or any grave consequences have been caused."
During the panel's discussions last week, some lawmakers still had different
views on the provision.
For example, NPC Standing Committee member He Keng disagreed with it.
He said journalism has its own rules and argued that media supervision was
not strong enough in China.
Wang said the proposed law prohibits governments and officials from abusing
their law enforcement powers during emergencies.
Protection of civilian's rights and restraining governments' behaviours have
been the guidelines of the proposed law, according to Wang.
"This represents great progress for China's democratic development and legal
construction," he noted.
Under the law, people will be compensated if their properties are damaged
during government authorized emergency responses.
Wang predicted that the law may be passed by the NPC Standing Committee this
Under China's legislation, a law usually goes through three rounds of reviews
before it is passed.