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Jail in Hong Kong for booing China's national anthem

Jail in Hong Kong for booing China's national anthem
From Al Jazeera - December 7, 2017

Hong Kong, China - Mocking China's national anthem in this semi-autonomous territory will soon be punishable by three years imprisonment following new legislation drafted by Beijing.

While the law must still be finalised, football fans have made a stand at recent games where the anthem - March of the Volunteers - has played.

A number of Hong Kong people have booed, held banners, and chanted "We are Hong Kong" despite claims by China's adviser to the special autonomous region, Elsie Leung,that the law could be applied retroactively.

The football pitch is an unlikely spot for a political match to go down, but in Hong Kong this is where opposition to the so called "anthem law" has been heard most fiercely.

Student Kin Wa Chung was one of the attendees who booed and brought a "Hong Kong is not China" flag to recent matches.

He explained through an interpreter that - following the ousting of four pro-democracy lawmakers in July - he felt like protest was the only way to speak out.

"Since these people have been disqualified, we do not have a channel to raise our voice and express our views," he told Al Jazeera.

Chung said the government does not hear the voice of the people, or listen to the reasons why the anthem was booed. He called this "a kind of oppression".

While pro-establishment officials say the booing is disrespectful, those who demonstrate feel differently.

"They are contradicting themselves and adding fuel to the fire. Instead of communicating with us, they pin the blame on us. They should be ashamed," said Chung.

"I do not think we are disrespecting the country, because if the government or the country are not some kind of representation of us, how can booing the national anthem be disrespectful? It's not representative of our voice."

Chung said while it's a relatively small gesture, the anthem protests are reaching a wider audience.

"If it was useless, you would not be interviewing me," he said.

Outlawing boos

Under the governing "one country, two systems" formula, Hong Kong's legal system is separate from that of mainland China. The anthem legislation has already been approved by the National People's Congress and brought into effect on the mainland.

But in Hong Kong, it must be locally drafted before it can be enacted as law and ultimately enforced.

Initially agreeing with Leung's threat to backdate the legislation, Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam later clarified this was unlikely.

Despite uncertainty around retroactive enforcement, the boos continue.

Pro-establishment politician Holden Chow said while protesters and their message only make up a minority in Hong Kong, he considers the booing concerning.

"Those sort of behaviours certainly show disrespect to the national anthem and also shows some sort of disrespect to our own country. I think that provoked many peopleincluding myself," he told Al Jazeera from his office in the Legislative Council Complex.

'Respect earned, not demanded'

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