China Extends National Anthem ‘Disrespect’ Law to Hong Kong

By Reuters
November 6, 2017 Updated: November 6, 2017

BEIJING—China’s largely rubber-stamp parliamentary body, the National Congress, formally extended a law banning disrespect of the national anthem to cover Hong Kong on Saturday, Oct. 4, a move that critics have said undermined Chinese-ruled Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms.

In the past few years, some Hong Kong football fans have booed the national anthem during World Cup qualifiers and other matches, expressing their discontent with the growing reach of the Chinese Communist Regime into Hong Kong’s affairs.

China passed a new law in September mandating up to 15 days in police detention for those who mock the national anthem the “March of the Volunteers”, a law that also covers the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau but was not immediately given a legal basis for enforcement there when the territories were handed back to China.

The National Anthem Law, which went into effect on Oct. 1, has now been included in an annex of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, or constitution, China’s state news agency Xinhua said. It will also be included in an annex of Macau’s Basic Law, Xinhua reported.

He Shaoren, spokesman for the National Congress Standing Committee, said in a news conference on Saturday that it was up to the Hong Kong government to enact a local law to abide by the amendment in a timely manner.

A Hong Kong official said on Oct. 1 that the Special Administrative Region would enact such a law “as soon as possible”.

Hong Kong is a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a so-called “one country, two systems” formula that promises the city a high degree of autonomy, including an independent judiciary.

China’s national legislature on Oct. 4 also passed an amendment to its criminal law that extends punishments for publicly desecrating the Communist Chinese flag and emblem to disrespecting the national anthem. Punishments include jail terms of up to three years, Xinhua reported. This law does not appear to apply to Hong Kong or Macau.