In a world where individual liberties and freedom of expression are celebrated as fundamental human rights, China’s latest move to control what its citizens wear is deeply troubling. The proposed ban on clothing deemed “detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese people” and that “hurt the feelings” of the Chinese people is not only vague but represents yet another assault on personal freedom. As an Indian and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I cannot help but view this development through the lens of our own struggles for freedom and acceptance.
China’s authoritarian regime has a long history of trying to control its citizens’ thoughts, actions, and even appearances. This new proposal takes their obsession with control to a new extreme. The lack of specificity in the draft language is especially concerning. What constitutes “detrimental” clothing, and who gets to decide what “hurts the feelings” of the Chinese people? The vague wording gives sweeping powers to law enforcement to detain anyone they deem offensive, effectively stifling individuality and diversity.
The incidents involving citizens wearing traditional Japanese clothing and those expressing solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community illustrate the arbitrary and discriminatory nature of this proposed law. The detention of a woman for wearing a Japanese kimono and the harassment of individuals in “cosplay” outfits are examples of how this law can be weaponized to target anyone seen as a troublemaker or someone who deviates from the rigid norms imposed by the state.
Furthermore, the crackdown on teenagers with tattoos or men wearing feminine attire is a clear violation of personal expression and gender identity. It is a sad reminder of how oppressive policies can further marginalize already vulnerable communities, including the LGBTQ+ community.
While some countries have clothing bans for religious, cultural, or historic reasons, China’s proposed ban stands out for its excessive vagueness and its apparent aim to suppress any form of individual attire that challenges the Communist Party’s narrow notions of patriotism and nationalism. This move towards increasing anti-Western sentiment only fosters an atmosphere of intolerance.
The fact that this proposal was published for public consultation is a mere formality, given China’s history of not heeding the opinions of its citizens. However, it is crucial to note that by ignoring the voices of its people, China’s leadership risks alienating the young and creative individuals who are essential for the country’s future prosperity.
As an Indian, I cannot help but draw parallels between China’s authoritarian measures and the struggles faced by marginalized communities in my own country.
India has made significant strides in recognizing the rights and dignity of the LGBTQ+ community in recent years, and the enlightened among us understand the importance of fostering an inclusive society that respects individual freedom. But on the other hand, there are several ‘battles’ being fought over such polarizing issues as caps and ‘burkhas’ and such.
I feel, reading an article in the Washington Post, that the proposed clothing ban in China is a grave infringement on personal freedom and free expression. It exemplifies the authoritarian tendencies of the Chinese government and its disregard for the voices of its own citizens.
We stand in solidarity with those in China who are resisting this crackdown on personal liberty and urge the international community to condemn such oppressive measures wherever they arise.
Personal freedom and the right to express oneself through clothing are essential components of a just and equitable society, and they should be upheld and protected at all costs.
THIS IS AN OPINION PIECE AND THE VIEWS EXPRESSED HEREIN ARE ENTIRELY THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND NOT NECESSARILY THOSE OF NEWSNET ONE EDITOR AND STAFF