HONG KONG: Hong Kong's legislature is moving forward on a controversial Bill that would criminalise abuse of China's national anthem.
A second reading of the Bill is being held in the legislature on Wednesday (May 27). Protests outside the legislature are expected.
WHAT IS IT?
Hong Kongs National Anthem Bill if passed into law by the legislature will govern the use and playing of the Chinese national anthem.
This includes provisions that threaten to punish those who insult the anthem with up to three years jail and/or fines of up to HKUS$50,000 (US$6,450).
The Bill states that "all individuals and organisations" should respect and dignify the national anthem and play it and sing it on "appropriate occasions".
It also orders that primary and secondary school students be taught to sing it, along with its history and etiquette.
WHY IS IT CONTROVERSIAL?
Anti-government protests last year were primarily aimed at resisting further integration with mainland China. The Chinese national anthem has been booed at several events, including football matches.
Protesters and pro-democracy politicians say the Bill represents the latest sign of what they see as accelerating interference from Beijing in the freewheeling former British colony.
Britain handed Hong Kong back to Chinese rule in 1997 with guarantees that the city's core freedoms and way of life would be protected under a "one country, two systems" formula, which Beijing says it respects.
The freedoms of speech, press, association and demonstration are explicitly written into the Basic Law, the mini-constitution that guides Hong Kongs relationship with its Chinese sovereign – freedoms that opponents of the Bill now say are under threat.
More technically, some senior lawyers fear the Bill is highly unusual in that it, in part, reflects the ideological aspirations of China's Communist Party that might prove difficult to enforce.
"It is the first Hong Kong law I've seen that looks like it was written in Beijing," one senior judge told Reuters recently, speaking privately. "It will be a nightmare to rule on."
The Hong Kong Bar Association acknowledged the need for such laws but said parts of the Bill "deviate from the good traditions" of Hong Kongs common law system.
It said there was a fundamental difference between that system and the "socialist legal system of mainland China which would include political ideology and conceptual guidance".
WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
For years, Chinese officials and their pro-Beijing allies in Hong Kong have wanted to instill a greater sense of patriotic pride across its freest – and most restive – city.
Hong Kong's governmenRead More – Source