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Disrespecting the national anthem in China may now lead to prison for 3 years

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Adding perspective to the controversial national anthem protest sweeping America, mimicking this behavior in China may soon result in up to three years in jail.

Proving that the freedom to show such disrespect, should one so choose, should not be taken for granted, the communist country is considering lengthy jail terms for anyone who disrespects the national anthem or flag in public, according to Reuters.

AP Xi Jinping
(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

President Xi Jinping, looking to protect China from both internal and external threats, initiated a “sweeping crackdown on dissent and free speech” in 2013, the news agency reported.

More from Reuters, as reported by Chinese state media Xinhua:

China passed a new law in September mandating up to 15 days in police detention for those who mock the “March of the Volunteers” national anthem, a law that also covers the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau.

Parliament is now looking at whether to amend China’s Criminal Law to include criminal penalties for disrespect of the national anthem, including intentionally distorting the lyrics or tune, Xinhua said.

The tougher penalties also apply to desecration of the national flag, or emblem, including burning, defacing or trampling on it in public, the report said. That, too, had previously been punishable by up to 15 days’ detention.


A draft amendment states that violators “may face punishments of up to three years of imprisonment.”

The action comes after Hong Kong football fans booed the Chinese anthem at a World Cup qualifier in 2015 — Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

 Zhang Rongshun, deputy head of parliament’s Legislative Affairs Commission, told Xinhua that the law must be apply in Hong Kong.

AP Hong Kong Soccer Fans
(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

“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,” Rongshun said.

“It is urgent and important to apply the national anthem law in Hong Kong, in a bid to prevent and handle such offences.”

Tom Tillison


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