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Draft seeks prison for disrespect to anthem

By CAO YIN | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-01 07:13

People who show disrespect to China's national anthem will face prison terms of up to three years if a draft amendment to the Criminal Law is adopted by the top legislature.

The draft builds on the National Anthem Law, which took effect this month, by providing details of proposed criminal punishments.

Anyone who maliciously modifies the lyrics, or plays or sings the national anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way in public, or with other serious disrespectful practices, will be held liable criminally. According to the draft, penalties can include detention, being deprived of one's political rights or a sentence of up to three years.

The draft was submitted to the bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for review on Tuesday.

Legal experts said the new proposed rule could be regarded as "a judicial connection" between the National Anthem Law and the Criminal Law.

The National Anthem Law ensures appropriate use of the song and stipulates that those who mock the anthem in public, including distorting it or maliciously tampering with it, will face up to 15 days in administrative detention or even criminal punishment.

Ruan Chuansheng, a criminal defense lawyer in Shanghai, said the proposed new rule is a necessary supplement to the Criminal Law, which now includes punishment for those who disrespect the national flag and emblem but lacks corresponding rules on disrespect for the national anthem.

"The anthem is a symbol like our national flag and emblem. I think it's unfair if we punish people who disrespect the flag and emblem but have no penalty for anthem violators," he said.

The existing Criminal Law says that people who damage the national flag and emblem will be sentenced to up to three years in prison, "so the sentence in the draft (for showing disrespect for the anthem) is reasonable and complies with the principle of the balance between crime and punishment," said Zhou Guangquan, a criminal law professor at Tsinghua University.

China's national anthem, March of the Volunteers, was composed in 1935 and named the national anthem in 1949.

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