China’s controversial national anthem law takes effect in Hong Kong
Hong Kong, Jun 12 (efe-epa).- The controversial law of the Chinese national anthem, which can bring up to 3 years in prison to those who insult the “March of Volunteers,” entered into force Friday in Hong Kong, after its approval at the Legislative Council of the semi-autonomous city.
Sources quoted anonymously by public Hong Kong radio broadcasting RTHK explained that the former British colony police have been trained in how to apply it and that internal guidelines “suggest that the legislation would be used only against those who deliberately insult” the anthem.
Those who do so risk not only imprisonment of up to three years, but also to fines of up to HK $50,000 ($6,451).
Opposition deputies, as well as thousands of protesters, have expressed their opposition to this new law, which they consider violates freedom of expression, as well as not considering it the proper way to get people to respect the Chinese national anthem.
For more than a year, the situation in Hong Kong has been deteriorating due to the impact of pro-democratic protests on the economy of the semi-autonomous city, where local GDP fell by 2.8 percent and 3 percent in the last two quarters of 2019, respectively, and 8.9 percent in the first of 2020, to which the paralysis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has been added.
The political situation in the former British colony is also far from being resolved, with governments, both in Beijing and in Hong Kong, not looking friendly with dialogue or concessions, and with a pro-democratic movement that has gained new momentum following the approval of the law that comes into force today, and a security law passed by the Chinese Legislative last month.
The law would aim to “safeguard national security” against the much-feared “foreign interference” that Beijing sees in the massive protests that started more than a year ago, but lawyers and activists believe this law will end up curtailing the liberties the city enjoys.
The 1984 Sino-British Declaration, which articulated Hong Kong’s retrocession from British to Chinese hands in 1997, established the maintenance for at least 50 years from that date of a series of unimaginable freedoms in this territory in mainland China.
However, from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, its spokesmen have said on numerous occasions that this document was already fulfilled at the time. EFE-EPA