Jun 4, 2020 - World

Hong Kong legislature bans insults to Chinese national anthem

Activists holding a candlelit remembrance to mark the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown outside Victoria Park in Hong Kong on June 4, 2020.

Activists holding a candlelit remembrance outside Victoria Park in Hong Kong on June 4, 2020, to mark the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong’s legislature approved a bill Thursday that makes insulting the "March of the Volunteers," the Chinese national anthem, illegal, AP reports.

Why it matters: It did so on the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, when Chinese troops opened fire on pro-democracy activists in 1989. The death toll has never been released, but estimates vary between hundreds and thousands.

  • The ban follows the passage of a new national security law for Hong Kong that criminalizes rebellion, foreign influence and secession in the Asian financial hub.

The big picture: The pro-democracy minority of the legislature believes the law infringes on Hong Kongers' freedom of expression and is another consequence of Beijing’s tightening control over the territory.

  • The pro-Beijing majority said the law is necessary for citizens to show appropriate respect for the anthem.

Thought bubble, via Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: The ban is an intentional slap in the face to Hong Kong residents who have placed great value on the city's traditional freedoms. It's also a show of power. Beijing has openly revealed itself as dictating Hong Kong's laws.

What's next: From now on, those found guilty of abusing the “March of the Volunteers” may face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 50,000 Hong Kong dollars ($6,450).

Go deeper: Hong Kong's economic future hangs in the balance

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