China on Saturday adopted a new law stipulating a three-year punishment for disrespecting the national anthem, which would also be enforced in the specially administered provinces of Hong Kong and Macau. China’s national legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC) often referred to as a rubber stamp parliament for its routine endorsement of the ruling Communist Party’s decisions voted and passed an amendment to the country’s criminal law to punish acts of gravely disrespecting the national anthem.
It has also endorsed the adoption of the National Anthem Law to the Special Administrative Regions (SAR) of Hong Kong and Macau, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The extension of the law to Hong Kong is significant in view of the unrest among the local population over the growing control of China in the SAR which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
The amendments were passed at the bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the NPC. According to the amendment, punishments previously stipulated for national flag and national emblem desecration in public now also apply to serious acts of public disrespect to the national anthem.
Punishments include deprivation of political rights, criminal detention and imprisonment of upto three years. The national anthem law, adopted in September, came into force last month to ensure appropriate use of the song. Those who maliciously modify the lyrics, or play or sing the national anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way in public, can be detained for upto 15 days, and even be held criminally liable, according to the law.
China’s national anthem “March of the Volunteers” has lyrics by poet Tian Han and music by Nie Er. The song encouraged Chinese soldiers and civilians during the 1937-45 Sino-Japanese War.