At the start of this month, mockery of the Chinese national anthem was made illegal in mainland China, now officials are looking to enact similar legislation in Hong Kong.
Since June 2015, Hong Kong football fans have taken advantage of every opportunity to boo the “March of the Volunteers” when it is played before a match in the city. This tradition continued last week when some fans turned their backs as the anthem played out in Hong Kong Stadium prior to a match against Malaysia, despite warnings from the local football authority.
Such behavior could be a criminal offense in mainland China where a new national anthem law officially went into effect on October 1st. The law states that those who disrespect or mock the anthem can be detained for up to 15 days with possible criminal charges filed against them. The law does not yet apply to Hong Kong or Macau, though there were many who worried that it soon would.
These concerns appear to be well-founded as Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, told RTHK that officials were currently taking “preliminary steps” for considering how best to implement the law in Hong Kong.
To allay some fears, Nip, the city’s top official for constitutional and mainland affairs, said that the law “would keep in mind Hong Kong’s own legal and constitutional traditions” and implied that it would not be applied retroactively, according to the South China Morning Post.
At the moment there is no exact timeframe for when the new national anthem law will be made to apply to Hong Kong. First, it must be inserted into Hong Kong’s Basic Law Annex III, a step that could be taken as soon as the end of this month when the new National People’s Congress Standing Committee is scheduled to meet.
When the law finally does come into place, what will HK football fans say?
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