Hong Kong’s legislature passed the long-delayed National Anthem Bill on Thursday, which outlaws insults to China’s national anthem.
The National Anthem Law will take effect on June 12, after the bill was passed in the Legislative Council by a vote of 41 to 1.
According to the bill, misuse of and acts insulting the national anthem are liable to a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment and a fine of HK$50,000 ($6,450).
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Tsang Kwokwai said the government will promote the law to enhance the Hong Kong public’s sense of national identity.
Tsang called on the public to show more respect for the national anthem, which is a symbol of the country. He pointed out that the law will not affect the general public unless they publicly insult the anthem, thus it is unfounded to claim the law will undermine freedom of speech.
Hong Kong society on Thursday welcomed the passing of the bill, saying it will bolster the public’s sense of national identity.
Wong Kam-leung, a primary school principal and chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, said the move will strengthen students’ understanding of the anthem and the nation’s history.
The Chinese General Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong said in a statement that the law’s enactment will safeguard the dignity of the national anthem.
Jonathan Choi Koon-shum, the chamber’s chairman, said the past year of street violence shows the importance of boosting the sense of national identity among Hong Kong people, particularly among the younger generation.
Choi urged the SAR government and the community to join hands to fully implement the law, so that the younger generation will have more respect for the national anthem and the nation.
The bill had been held up for more than a year owing to filibustering by opposition lawmakers. Thursday’s deliberations were suspended for hours after two opposition lawmakers splashed foul-smelling liquids in the chamber.
Legislative Council President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen condemned the “irresponsible” acts of the opposition, saying that its obstructive tactics had dented the legislature’s reputation and didn’t live up to public expectations.
To derail the bill, opposition legislators had paralyzed the agendasetting House Committee for nearly seven months since last October, postponing numerous livelihood-related bills.
Much attention has been given to the National Anthem Bill and the proposed national security law for Hong Kong lately by the opposition and in the United States, which announced it would revoke Hong Kong’s preferential trade status over the proposed law.
In Beijing, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said on Thursday that Hong Kong’s separate customs territory was not granted by any individual government, but was widely recognized by members of the World Trade Organization.
It was conferred by the central government and the Basic Law of Hong Kong, as well as the multilateral rules of the WTO, Gao said.
The central government will firmly support the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in maintaining its separate customs territory and resolutely opposes the interference of external forces in the region’s affairs, he said.
If the US disregards the basic norms of international relations and adopts unilateral measures in accordance with its domestic laws, it violates WTO rules and this is not in the interests of the US itself, he added.
“We will unswervingly follow the ‘one country, two systems’ principle to support the Hong Kong SAR’s development,” he said, adding that the central government will firmly support the HKSAR in consolidating and enhancing its status as an international financial, trade and shipping center.
Copyright 1995 - 2020. All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily. Without written authorization from China Daily, such content shall not be republished or used in any form.
HONG KONG NEWS