At the start of October, mockery of the Chinese national anthem was made illegal in mainland China, now legislators are looking to mete out harsher punishments for those who dare to disrespect the “March of the Volunteers.” Donald Trump, eat your heart out.
As China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee went into session on Monday, a draft amendment was submitted for deliberation which called for those who violate the country’s new anthem law to face up to three years imprisonment, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.
The draft amendment would prescribe that those caught publicly disrespecting the anthem be faced with the same punishments as those who disrespect the national flag and national emblem in public. “Punishment ranges from removal of political rights and public surveillance to criminal detention and imprisonment of up to three years,” Xinhua states.
Currently, those who play or sing the national anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way, or who modify the anthem lyrics to make a parody can be detained for up to 15 days with possible criminal charges filed against them.
This law does not yet apply to Hong Kong, where football fans regularly boo and turn their backs when the Chinese national anthem starts to play. However, Xinhua reports that the NPC Standing Committee is currently “mulling” implementing the national anthem law in Hong Kong and Macau as well.
Bills submitted to the legislature on Monday would see that the law be included in Annex III of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and Annex III in the Basic Law of the Macao SAR. The bills are almost certain to pass through the rubber-stamp parliament. Zhang Rongshun, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, described why they are necessary:
To safeguard the authority of the national anthem — one of the national symbols — is to safeguard the authority of the state, the people and the Chinese nation.
In recent years, incidents of disrespecting the national anthem had occurred in Hong Kong, challenging the bottom line of the principle of ‘one country, two systems’ and social morality and triggering rage among Chinese including most 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.
Earlier this month, Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, Hong Kong’s top official for constitutional and mainland affairs, said that officials had already taken “preliminary steps” for considering how best to implement the law in the special administrative region, reassuring the public that the law “would keep in mind Hong Kong’s own legal and constitutional traditions” and implied that it would not be applied retroactively.
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat