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Measures introduced to implement National Anthem Law in HK, Macao

By Willa Wu in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-01 07:13

Draft bills to make the National Anthem Law part of the Basic Laws of the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions were introduced on Tuesday during the ongoing session of China's top legislature.

The drafts, submitted to the 30th session of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress, were accepted by the Basic Law committees and governments of both SARs, according to a report of the Standing Committee released on Tuesday.

Once the draft bills are approved by the NPC Standing Committee, both SARs will start their local legislative procedures.

A vote on the bills is expected on Saturday.

Measures introduced to implement National Anthem Law in HK, Macao

Also introduced was a separate bill to amend the country's Criminal Law to include penalties for disrespecting the national anthem, including imprisonment for up to three years.

If passed, the amended law will be implemented on the mainland and will serve as a reference for penalties in Hong Kong and Macao.

Zhang Rongshun, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, said safeguarding the authority of the national anthem safeguards the authority of the State, the people and the Chinese nation, as it serves, together with the national flag and national emblem, as a national symbol.

Zhang added that incidents of disrespecting the national anthem have occurred in Hong Kong in recent years, challenging the bottom line of the principle of "one country, two systems", as well as social morality, and triggering rage among Chinese, including Hong Kong residents.

"It is urgent and important to apply the National Anthem Law in Hong Kong, in a bid to prevent and handle such offenses," Zhang said.

A notable instance of disrespecting the national anthem occurred in Hong Kong in 2015, and again in October this year when some Hong Kong soccer fans booed the song during an Asian Cup qualifying match between Hong Kong and the national team of Malaysia.

The Asian Football Confederation, the governing body of Asian football, issued a stern warning to the Hong Kong Football Association on Tuesday over the incident, saying booing the anthem breached the body's code of ethics and that severe punishment would be handed down for any repeat violation.

The National Anthem Law, which took effect on Oct 1, bans use of the national anthem - March of the Volunteers - at funerals, on "inappropriate" private occasions, in commercials or as background music in public places, as well as malicious modifications of the lyrics, or playing or singing it in a distorted or disrespectful way.

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