Violators of China’s new national anthem law may face criminal prosecution, according to state news agency Xinhua.

The draft legislation went through its second reading at a bimonthly session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee – China’s legislature – on Monday. Hong Kong and Macau, may not be immune from the new law.

china national anthem
Photo: Screenshot via Stand News.

In the draft law’s second reading, penalties were increased. It now states that those who maliciously change the lyrics, perform the anthem in a derogatory or distorted way, or insult the anthem in other ways, will be issued a warning or detained up for up to 15 days by police. Violators may now also face criminal prosecution, according to the new draft.

Special Administrative Regions

The Standing Committee also recommended that – during its October meeting – a resolution should be passed to begin deliberation on how the law could be applied within Annex III of Hong Kong and Macau’s mini constitutions.

The second reading draft also states that the anthem should be included in primary and middle school curricula. It says that schools should organise students to sing the anthem together, teach them to understand its history and spiritual meaning, and instruct them to follow the correct ceremony in performing the anthem, according to Xinhua.

The law bans March of the Volunteers from being used in commercial advertisements or at funerals and during other “improper” private functions. It also bans the use of the song as background music in public areas.

chinese flag
File photo: HKFP.

“The song will only be allowed at formal political gatherings, including the opening and closing of NPC sessions, constitutional oath ceremonies, flag raising ceremonies, major celebrations, award ceremonies, commemorations, national memorial day events, important diplomatic occasions, major sport events and other proper occasions,” Xinhua reported.

It also encourages people to sing the anthem on proper occasions to express patriotism. It states that people must stand solemnly and carry a serious manner, and must not carry out actions that disrespect the anthem.

YouTube video

The law has sparked debate on how it may be applied in Hong Kong.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.