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Hong Kong’s national anthem law takes effect today

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Hong Kong’s national anthem law takes effect today

HK NYT
Photo: NYT

Hong Kong’s National Anthem Bill will come into effect today, controversially criminalising insults to the Chinese national anthem.

The bill was first drafted by the Hong Kong Executive Council last year but failed to pass after a concurrent extradition bill sparked mass anti-government protests. The proposal was brought back to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council in May and passed this month despite filibusters by pro-democracy lawmakers. Under the new law, anyone who publicly and intentionally insults the anthem will face up to three years in jail or a maximum fine of $6,450.

The bill has been widely perceived as an attempt by Beijing to encroach upon the freedom of expression currently enjoyed by Hong Kong’s citizens. The manoeuvre—which parallels China’s proposed ‘national security legislation’ that would further restrict Hong Kong’s sovereignty—will likely escalate citywide protests. While the US has pushed back against Beijing’s efforts to permanently alter the geopolitical status quo, the EU recently displayed reluctance to do the same; this misalignment indicates that Western trade partners may no longer serve as a buffer against China’s authoritarian aggression in the region.

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