Fans have booed the Chinese national anthem again at an official Hong Kong football match. The local team beat Malaysia 2-0 in an Asian Cup 2019 qualifier match on Tuesday night at the Hong Kong Stadium.

Fans also booed the anthem last Thursday during a friendly match against Laos.

Some fans turned their backs when March of the Volunteers was played, as some also showed a banner that read “Hong Kong independence” at the 40,000-seat stadium.

Pui Kwan-kay, vice-chairman of HKFA, had earlier warned fans that punishments may increase, with the harshest penalty being a loss of points for the Hong Kong team, harming their chances of proceeding to the Asian Cup finals.

Chung Kin-wa, a fan who successfully brought a “Hong Kong is not China” flag to the match, told HKFP that the problem was with the anthem.

“If they don’t play the Chinese national anthem, then we have nothing to protest against,” he said. “To me, the Chinese national anthem is not something that represents the Hong Kong team… and many fans agree with this in a subtle way.”

〈球迷噓國歌 康文署職員影低球迷個樣〉【即時】(19:59) 香港足球代表隊晚上在大球場迎戰馬來西亞,進行2019年亞洲盃外圍賽賽事。有球迷在開賽前奏出中華人民共和國國歌時,發出近半分鐘的噓聲。有康文署職員在場拍攝球迷的容貌,記者向職員查詢時,有職員斥責稱:「我哋做緊嘢,唔關你事。」〈香港兩球贏大馬 力保出線亞洲盃希望〉— #獨媒報導

Posted by 香港獨立媒體網 on Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Chung criticised Pui for blaming the fans: “He did not try to make changes [in playing the anthem], he would only suppress fans to shut them up.”

The Association has been fined twice in the past as a result of supporters apparently booing the anthem. It previously received fines of 5,000 and 10,000 Swiss francs respectively – a total of HK$120,000.

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

Although the Hong Kong government had said it intends to enact the law locally, it has yet to be tabled at the Legislative Council.

Hong Kong fans turning their backs during the national anthem on October 5, 2017 at the Mong Kok Stadium.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Priscilla Leung had said the booing incidents may speed up the legislation of the national anthem law, but unless there is local legislation and it has retroactive effect, such behaviour is currently not illegal.

Rao Geping, a vice-chairman of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies think tank, had said that local legislation of the law should be conducted as soon as possible. He said the fans’ behaviour should not be tolerated as they knowingly broke the law.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.