Peaceful Assembly

Although hundreds of protests take place in China every day - some of them in open opposition to the authorities - officially, public demonstrations and protests in China can only take place once organisers obtain government approval. Organisers must submit an application five days before the gathering is to take place and are required to submit a huge amount of information, including the wording of any slogans or banners to be used. In practice, approval is rarely granted. Despite the formal obstacles to demonstrations, in recent years China has experienced increasing public mobilisation, which the authorities have struggled to contain. Any gathering organised with the aim of criticising the government or the Chinese Community Party (CCP) is categorised as a threat to security and participants in such protests are routinely detained. During the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 2014 for instance, the government went to extensive lengths to suppress any public memorial events for the victims. While the authorities do turn a blind eye to many localised protests, even demonstrations promoting relatively benign, non-political causes can attract the ire of the authorities in China. In March 2015, five Chinese feminist activists were detained for organising a protest to spread awareness about sexual harassment on public transportation in Beijing. The women were arrested on suspicion of ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’ and detained for approximately two months before being released on bail.