The Ever-Growing Use of RSDL Policy in China

The Ever-Growing Use of RSDL Policy in China
Photo by Vincent Chan on Unsplash



Michela Rivellino


China and Human Rights Researcher,


Global Human Rights Defence.


Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL) implies an exceptional measure that allows Chinese authorities to hold in custody, prior to arrest, individuals who are deemed to endanger national security.


Nevertheless, evidence has shown a growing abuse and misuse of this procedure in more recent years, turning exceptional RSDL measures into a highly common practice in China. Indeed, about tens of thousands of people are feared to have been arbitrarily detained under surveillance law, 10.000 of which in 2020 alone. Differently from its early days, the most alarming element concerns the growing target of RSDL, according to which more and more people are now running the risk of being considered a threat to state security. 

In this regard, the Hong Kong Post has reported the involvement of well-known people, human rights defenders, political opponents, activists, and anyone whose activities affect the public affairs domain, such as state employees and Party members. In order to ward off legal concerns, authorities usually provide formal false accusations as excuses to make use of these extrajudicial detention systems, while hiding the real reasons for imprisoning people. Many of these individuals may be held in these detention centers for up to six months, according to RSDL policy, and they are often subjected to different forms of torture and abuse.

The current situation shows a significant lack of legitimacy, as much as transparency in Chinese policies and activities. For these reasons, rights professionals and experts are urgently calling on China’s government to eradicate RSDL policy. 




Sources and further reading:

China has used draconian surveillance law to suppress dissident: Report, 8 February 2022,