China adopts harsher penalties for disrespecting national anthem and paves way for measure to be adopted into Hong Kong law
Senior officials back move to make offence punishable by three years’ jail on mainland and clear path for legislation to amend city’s Basic Law
China’s top legislature has endorsed an amendment to the criminal code to make abuse of the national anthem or flag punishable by up to three years in prison.
It has also endorsed the adoption of the National Anthem Law – which was approved at a National People’s Congress Standing Committee session in September and came into effect on the mainland at the start of the month – in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law.
The committee said it would add the law to Annex III of the Basic Law, which would enable the city to adopt the legislation.
According to the existing National Anthem Law, anyone who maliciously modifies the lyrics, or plays or sings March of the Volunteers in “a distorted or disrespectful way in public”, can be detained for up to 15 days and face criminal charges.
Saturday’s draft amendment would stiffen that punishment.
Those who sing the national anthem in a disrespectful way or doctor the lyrics or the music could be subjected to up to three years’ imprisonment and deprived of their political rights.
The Asian Football Confederation earlier gave the Hong Kong Football Association a “stern warning” for violating its disciplinary and ethics code after a number of local fans – some displaying pro-independence banners – booed the national anthem during a soccer match last month.