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Hong Kong may make disrespect of China's national anthem a crime

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:59s - Published < > Embed
Hong Kong may make disrespect of China's national anthem a crime

Hong Kong may make disrespect of China's national anthem a crime

Hong Kong is set to present a controversial bill to lawmakers that prescribes jail terms of up to three years for anyone disrespecting the Chinese national anthem, a move critics say raises fresh fears over freedom of expression in the city.

Ed Giles reports.

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Hong Kong may make disrespect of China's national anthem a crime

Hong Kong might be about to make it illegal to disrespect China's national anthem.

That's the hope of pro-Beijing lawmakers in the semi-autonomous city.

They're set to introduce a bill that will propose jail terms of up to three years for the offence.

It's a move that has pro-democracy Hong Kongers worried.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DEMOSISTO SECRETARY-GENERAL JOSHUA WONG, SAYING: "My name is Joshua Wong, activist from Hong Kong.

I oppose to National Anthem Law." It's now nearly five years since the city's so-called umbrella movement protests.

And as Reuters' Farah Master explains from Hong Kong, the anthem law comes as authorities continue their effort to stamp out anti-China sentiment in the city.

(Soundbite) (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, FARAH MASTER, SAYING: "Hong Kong is governed under a one-country two-systems principle, which promises a high degree of autonomy and freedom of speech.

Following the occupy protests in 2014, booing at football matches became a form of political protest.

Predominantly done by young people, this was a way to demonstrate against their frustration at Beijing's increasing control of Hong Kong." Its likely the bill will pass the city's legislative council in the next few months.

Opposition members don't have enough votes to block even routine bills.

Along with possible prison time, offenders may also have to cough up fine of more than 6000 dollars.

It would also extend to school children, including pupils attending the city's schools that teach in English.

(Soundbite) (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, FARAH MASTER, SAYING: "Schools in Hong Kong, including international schools, will now be required to teach the national anthem.

Teachers are worried because they say if they're forced to teach the national anthem what could be next.

Hong Kong people fear that Beijing is increasingly encroaching in the city's culture and autonomy.

The national anthem law is seen as one more way and one more aspect where they're muscling in." Over the past year a number of opposition activists have been jailed.

Hong Kong also refused to extend the visa of a foreign journalist based in the city for the first time.

Beijing considers calls for Hong Kong's independence a red line and sees the former British colony as part of the Chinese nation.



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