Protection of Fallen Heroes and Freedom of Expression: A Comparative Study of Mainland China and the United States

In December 2017, mainland China came up with a draft law providing comprehensive protection for national heroes and martyrs. The draft law prohibits twisting, vilifying, and negating the deeds and spirit of national heroes and martyrs. Acts infringing their names, images, reputation or honor can also give rise to civil liability, and be subject to administrative punishments or criminal sanctions. This draft law represents a further step in the protection of national heroes and martyrs because the PRC enacted legislation in March 2017 imposing civil liability on acts infringing their personality rights (except image right). Lobbyists for these recent initiatives have looked overseas for similar legislation and the Respect for Amercia’s Fallen Heroes Act has frequently been quoted. This presentation examines these recent legislative moves by the Chinese authorities and their impact on freedom of expression, with a view of comparing relevant American practices and scenarios.