Thu, Jun 13, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Hong Kong soccer fans boo China anthem in protest

AFP, HONG KONG

Hong Kong soccer fans booed the Chinese national anthem and held signs opposing plans by the territory’s government to allow extraditions to China at a home match against Taiwan on Tuesday night.

The fan protest came as the international hub is rocked once more by huge anti-government protests with record marches over the weekend and demonstrators seizing major highways yesterday morning. The latest protests have been sparked by a proposal to allow criminals to be rendered to China for the first time.

Many are fearful the proposed law would drag people into China’s opaque courts in politically motivated trials and hammer Hong Kong’s reputation as an international business hub.

PASSIVE RESISTANCE

Footage posted on social media from Hong Kong’s 0-2 defeat by Taiwan on Tuesday night showed fans booing loudly as China’s March of the Volunteers anthem was played.

Fans have booed the national anthem for years, but it has become much more commonplace ever since huge pro-democracy protests in 2014 failed to win any concessions from Beijing.

China bristles at any disrespect of its anthem and has fine-tuned legislation on the proper way and place to sing the anthem, tightening rules that already bar people from performing it at parties, weddings and funerals.

ANTHEM BILL

Earlier this year Hong Kong unveiled a proposed law that would punish anyone who disrespects the Chinese national anthem with up to three years in jail. The legislation, which specifically mentions fan behavior at soccer matches as part of its justification, is still making its way through the territory’s legislative council.

A draft bill showed that the territory planned to copy China by bringing in a maximum three year prison sentence for “serious” cases of disrespect toward the national anthem.

The draft outlaws playing the anthem “in a distorted or disrespectful way, with intent to insult.” It also forbids altering the anthem’s lyrics and its score. As well as possible jail time, offenders would also face fines of up to HK$50,000 (US$6,390).

Critics of the bill have described it as yet another move by the territory’s pro-Beijing authorities to stamp out dissent and criticism of China in a territory where free speech is supposed to be protected.

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