China’s legislature is considering enacting a law to ensure the dignity of the national anthem, and Hongkongers will be asked to abide by its provisions or face legal consequences, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
A meeting of the 28th session of the 12th National People’s Congress Standing Committee opened on Thursday in Beijing, with members deliberatingthe a draft law on the national anthem, the March of the Volunteers.
According to the bill, maliciously modifying the anthem’s lyrics or performing it in a derogatory manner is against the law.
The proposal would also ban the use of the anthem as background music in advertisements or in public places, and those who hear it playing should show respect by standing up straight and assuming a solemn attitude.
Violators could face a jail term of up to 15 days.
It also provides that the anthem be taught to students in primary schools nationwide as part of their patriotic education.
Shen Chunyao, chairman of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, said it is imperative to formulate the law in order to enhance the citizens’ sense of patriotism.
Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, a lawmaker from the pro-Beijing Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, said she expects the national anthem law to be included in Annex III of the Basic Law, which specifies national laws that should be applied locally, like the one regarding the national flag.
The Legislative Council has the right to change the wording in the new law before approving it, Leung said, stressing that failure to make it part of the Basic Law may result in it being made unconditionally applicable in the territory, something she thinks is not the best for Hong Kong.
She said Beijing’s bid to formulate the law might have something to do with an incident back in 2015.
On Nov. 17 of that year, several Hong Kong football fans were seen holding “BOO” signs while China’s national anthem was being played before the kickoff of a match between Hong Kong and China at the Mong Kok Stadium for the qualifying round of the 2018 World Cup.
The Hong Kong Football Association was later fined 10,000 Swiss francs (US$10,300) for repeated violations of the FIFA disciplinary code.
Meanwhile, lawmaker Nathan Law from the pro-democracy party Demosistō said the law has nothing to do with any action involving the national anthem that is meant as a political statement or a form of protest, hk01.com reported.
He also opposed plans to include the teaching of the national anthem in schools as part of patriotic education, saying such a move would impair the autonomy of Hong Kong’s education system.
It may also violate Article 136 of the Basic Law, Law added.
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