The outcry of criticism of these laws has come from both within and outside of China. The traditional criticism of terror laws are present: the laws are too broad, they are too far-reaching, that liberties are further limited in China, and that particular government institutions are given too much unchecked and unbalanced power to apply these laws. However, it is worth noting that while these criticisms are present, China has been receiving more radical critiques in response to its laws – namely that these are not anti-terrorism laws, but in fact, bureaucratic methods of legitimizing the discrimination of minority groups within the Chinese territory.
In the justification of these anti-terrorism laws, China has credited fault to a religious minority, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, as well as those inspired by its cause. Of course, this comes with its own historical baggage as this conflict traces its roots to the north-eastern region of Xinjiang. In this region, until recently, the population was most Uighur, the community native to Xinjiang. With their culture and ethnicity being closer to that of central Asia, “most Uighurs are Muslim and Islam is an important part of their life and identity” (BBC). Thus, on the basis of culture and divergent projects, Xinjiang has been under contestation between self-determination with its own nation and unification with China since the 18th century. However, throughout the 20th century, demography has shown that “Major development projects have brought prosperity to Xinjiang's big cities, attracting young and technically qualified Han Chinese from eastern provinces” (BBC). Thus, a fluctuation in population has made the native Uighurs a minority in the region of Xinjiang. And under these conditions, according to local activists, “Uighur commercial and cultural activities have been gradually curtailed by the Chinese state” (BBC), for many of these activities have been stigmatized as “illegal” and “separatist.”
As consequence of such conditions, violence has sprung up against Chinese authorities by the Uighur people; while at the same time, blame has been placed upon the Uighur people for certain violent acts in official Chinese statements. Ultimately, this amounts to the environment of conflict upon which China has decided to enforce its new anti-terrorism laws. Nonetheless, it is with this background that these laws have been criticized to aim at ethnic control and regulation.
While this has been argued as the major criticism of China’s new laws, another aspect of criticism tends to focus on their technological laws: “the law still requires that companies hand over technical information and help with decryption when the police or state security agents demand it for investigating or preventing terrorist cases” (New York Times) “China will have a single counter-terrorism body which the country's public security ministry says ‘will be in charge of identifying terrorist activities and personnel, and coordinate nationwide anti-terrorist work’” (BBC). In this sense, the criticisms reflect again upon the growing concerns over an unchecked and unbalanced governmental body.
As a ministry of truth would institute, the current laws give power to censure unwelcome information, as well as control over the narratives and discursive practices that are available in China. This amounts to the architecting of a grand universal narrative being formed to have a ready-made constitution of what China is and what it means to be Chinese, ultimately through acts of erasures of ethnic groups deemed as Other.