Sun, Nov 05, 2017 - Page 1 News List

China makes disrespecting anthem a crime

AP, BEIJING

The Chinese and Hong Kong flags are seen outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong yesterday.
China has passed a law to punish anyone who disrespects the national anthem and the law will also apply in Hong Kong, the city`s government said in a statement.

Photo: AFP

China’s rubber-stamp legislature yesterday made disrespecting the Chinese national anthem a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison amid rising nationalist appeals from the Chinese Communist Party under the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).

The Chinese National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee passed an amendment to the country’s criminal law outlining punishments for people found “seriously” disrespecting the national anthem in public.

The move follows Xi’s appointment to a second five-year term as party leader, for which he has touted a vision of achieving a “Chinese dream” of a powerful, prosperous nation.

It also comes as the anthem, March of the Volunteers, has over the past few months been a political flash point in Hong Kong, where tensions are rising over Beijing’s efforts to assert its authority over the territory.

According to the amendment passed in Beijing yesterday, penalties include detention, imprisonment for up to three years and the deprivation of political rights.

Such punishments previously applied to the desecration of the national flag and emblem in public, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

The legislature also moved to apply a separate, recently passed law on the national anthem to Hong Kong and Macau.

Soccer fans in Hong Kong have booed the anthem when it has played at games between the home team and teams from China or other countries, leading to fines from FIFA, the sport’s governing body.

Hong Kong pro-democracy activists and lawmakers fear a national anthem law could be used to undermine freedom of speech in Hong Kong.

The National Anthem Law, which went into effect last month, stipulates that playing the anthem on occasions deemed improper, including funerals, or changing its wording or presenting it in a disrespectful manner could be punished with 15 days in detention.

The legislature adopted a decision to include the law in Hong Kong’s and Macau’s mini-constitutions, known in each territory as the Basic Law.

Xinhua quoted National People’s Congress Legislative Affairs Commission Deputy Director Zhang Rongshun (張榮順) as saying that it was “urgent and important” to apply the anthem law in Hong Kong to address recent incidents.

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