China’s legislative body has approved a new law that will criminalise insulting the national anthem, March of the Volunteers. It will take effect on National Day – October 1.

The National People’s Congress Standing Committee passed the draft law on Fridaywith violators facing detention of up to 15 days by police, or criminal prosecution.

chinese flag
File photo: HKFP.

The law states that the national anthem may be performed in “appropriate” situations and requires schools to teach the song. It also states that the media should actively promote the anthem and its etiquette.

The Chinese legislature’s executive body will officially propose including the law in Hong Kong and Macau’s mini-constitutions at their meeting this October, according to mainland news outlets.

See also: Will Hongkongers be able to move or blink during China’s national anthem? Lawmaker urges clarity on new law

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen said on Friday afternoon that the “nationwide law” has to be legislated upon in Hong Kong before it can be implemented.

Rimsky Yuen
Rimsky Yuen. File Photo: Chantal Yuen/HKFP.

“We understand that many in society have already expressed concern, and we will continue to listen to other views on this matter,” Yuen said.

See also: Hong Kong Education Bureau amends webpage on Chinese national anthem amid controversy over new law

Yuen also said that they hope the law in Hong Kong will be as clear as possible, so that it will be easily understood by everyone, and there will not be any misunderstanding about its enforcement.

Yuen said this is so as to uphold the legislative intent of the law on the one hand, and so that Hong Kong people’s basic rights and freedoms are also unaffected.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.