China extends national anthem ‘disrespect’ law to Hong Kong


China’s parliament has formally extended a law banning disrespect of the national anthem to cover Hong Kong, a move that critics say undermines the city’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.

China passed a law in September mandating up to 15 days in police detention for those who mock March of the Volunteers. The law covered the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau but was not immediately given a legal basis for enforcement there.

The Xinhau state news agency reported on Saturday that the law had now been included in an annex of Hong Kong’s basic law, or mini-constitution. It it also to be included in an annex of Macau’s basic law.

He Shaoren, a spokesman for the National People’s Congress standing committee, said in a news conference 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 had said earlier in the week that this would happen “as soon as possible”.

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

China’s growing reach into its affairs has toked tensions and mass protests, including the 2014 Occupy movement that blocked major roads in the city for 79 days to pressure China to allow full democracy.

The Chinese parliament also passed an amendment to its criminal law on Saturday that extends punishments for publicly desecrating the national 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.



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