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'Booing' of Chinese National Anthem Soon May Be Illegal in Hong Kong


Hong Kong soccer fans boo the Chinese national anthem and chant banner "Hong Kong Independence" during the AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualification soccer match against Malaysia, in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

A new law banning any “insult” to China’s national anthem took effect last month.

Hong Kong’s leader has suggested the law could soon be enforced there in the former British territory.

China's National People's Congress standing committee approved the measure on Sept. 1. Hong Kong is in the process of including the law in its separate statute book. It could be enforced in Hong Kong as early as next month.

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam spoke to reporters last week. “Although it’s been approved as a national law,” she said, “in order to introduce it in Hong Kong, there has to be some adaptation.”

Local media reported that the law could be used to target people who attend European football matches. In recent years, some football fans have shouted, booed or made other noises when China’s national anthem is played. Most people act respectfully when the music is played.

Wang Guangya recently retired as China’s representative to Hong Kong. He said the anthem law could be dealt with in a way that meets the requirements of the city’s legal system, which is different from other parts of the country.

"I think that Hong Kong can do this in accordance with its own legal system," Wang told reporters.

"The most important thing is this: Any citizen of this country should show respect to their country, its national anthem, and its national flag," he said.

Wang added that “this is a fundamental requirement, which I hope everyone agrees with.”

Booing could backfire

Last week, Hong Kong Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai spoke about the issue. He said the booing of the national anthem at football matches was a way for the people of Hong Kong to express their dissatisfaction with the government in Beijing. He also said that enforcing the anthem law could backfire.

Wu said there is a deep divide between Beijing and Hong Kong, one that is, in his words, “getting wider and wider.”

“They seem to think that this can be achieved simply by passing legislation requiring people to respect the national anthem,” he said.

Wu added, “If they want people to show genuine respect, then they shouldn’t be encouraging them to fake it.”

Last Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China’s Communist Party will keep "a firm grasp" on Hong Kong and exercise "full powers of governance" in the city.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Radio Free Asia reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

anthem - n. a formal song of loyalty, praise, or happiness​

statute - n. a written law that is formally created by a government​

adaptation - n. the process of changing to fit some purpose or situation: the process of adapting​

accordance - n. in a way that agrees with or follows (something, such as a rule or request)​

backfire - v. to have the opposite result of what was desired or expected​

encourage - v. to make (someone) more determined, hopeful, or confident​

grasp - n. a usually strong hold​

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