Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s legislature took up a controversial bill Wednesday that would punish anyone who “publicly and intentionally insults” the Chinese national anthem with up to three years in prison, raising concerns about Beijing’s growing influence in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. The move came after soccer fans repeatedly booed the anthem at the start of international qualifiers, upsetting leaders of the ruling Communist Party in Beijing. The measure would also require students to sing and study the song as part of their curriculum.
Ever since Beijing suppressed the pro-democracy movement in the semi-autonomous city in late 2014, heckling China’s national anthem has emerged as a form of protest. The bill, which also includes a maximum fine of USD 6,410 will be up for passage this summer. A former British colony, Hong Kong was handed over to Chinese rule in 1997 but continues to enjoy civil liberties such as freedom of the press are denied in China.