The Hong Kong legislature passed a controversial bill Thursday making it illegal to offend the Chinese national anthem.
Legislation was passed after pro-democracy opposition legislators tried to upset the vote by staging a dirty protest and throwing a jar of smelly liquid on the floor of the room.
The bill was passed with 41 legislators voting for it and only one voted against. Most pro-democracy lawmakers boycott the vote in protest.
The pro-democracy camp sees the anthem bill as a violation of freedom of expression and the greater rights that residents of the semi-autonomous city have compared to mainland China.
The pro-Beijing majority said the law is necessary for Hong Kong citizens to show appropriate respect for the national anthem.
Those who have been found guilty of deliberately abusing the ‘volunteer’s march’ face up to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to 50,000 Hong Kong dollars (£ 5,150).
After an initial dirty protest in the official parliamentary chamber of Hong Kong, the meeting resumed in a separate room where pro-democracy lawmaker Ted Hui splashed some liquid on the floor during the second dirty protest of the day. Pictured: People are trying to stop Hui as he spills foul-smelling liquid on the floor on June 4, 2020
In the Chamber of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, the third reading of the folk song bill was interrupted when Ray Chan threw a smelly object on the floor. Pictured: Firefighters and police inspect the object before cleaning the room
The legislative debate was previously suspended after pro-democracy lawmakers protested, with one dropping a jar of sharp liquid into the chamber.
With a sign saying, “A murderous regime has been stinking for ten thousand years,” legislator Ray Chan walked forward with the jar hidden in a Chinese paper lantern.
When guards tried to stop him, he dropped the lantern and jar and was thrown out of the meeting. Another legislator accompanying him was also removed.
The room was cleared and police and firefighters were called in to investigate the incident.
When the second-chamber meeting resumed, pro-democracy lawmaker Ted Hui again threw some liquid in front of the meeting room and was escorted outside.
Council Legislative President Andrew Leung called such behavior irresponsible and childish before asking for a vote.
In the Second Chamber, guards stand in the way of pro-democracy protesters demonstrating on June 4, 2020 against the finally adopted Chinese National Anthem Act, which makes dissecting the national anthem illegal and punishable by a fine of 50,000 Kong Kong Dollars and up to 3 years of imprisonment
Pictured: A pot of smelly liquid thrown by a pro-democracy legislator sits on the floor during a debate over the law banning insulting the Chinese national anthem at a Legislative Council meeting
Pictured: Guards try to clean the smelly object thrown on the floor of the room by a pro-democracy legislator on June 4, 2020
The controversial debate over the bill comes after China’s ceremonial national legislature last week formally passed a decision to introduce a national security law for Hong Kong that could put Chinese security agents in the city.
National Security Law aims to curb subversive activities, with Beijing urging after a month-long pro-democracy protest movement that saw violent clashes between police and protesters at times.
While experts have warned that the law could compromise Hong Kong’s status as one of the world’s best places to do business, at least two banks with a strong Asian presence have publicly supported the decision.
Bank HSBC said in a Chinese social media post that it “respects and supports all laws that stabilize Hong Kong’s social order,” while Standard Chartered believed that national security law “would contribute to the maintenance of long-term economic and social stability.” term from Hong Kong. ‘
The bill was passed with 41 legislators voting for it and only one vote against it, with many legislators boycotting the vote. Pictured: An electronic board showing voting results for the National Anthem Bill at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, 4 June 2020
Prior to the first dirty protest in the Legislative Council, pro-democracy lawmakers could see their way out of the room and boycott the vote on the anthem bill, June 4, 2020
Workers installed a ventilation pipe that ran across the Legislative Council island in Hong Kong after the room was evacuated after a dirty protest against the Chinese national anthem, which was finally passed in a second room on June 4, 2020
Opponents of the anthem law and the national security law see them as signs of tighter control of Beijing over the territory.
Beijing began to push for the national anthem law after Hong Kong football fans swept the national anthem at international matches in 2015.
When Hong Kong rebelled against government protests last year, thousands of fans shouted and turned their back when the national anthem was played during a World Cup qualifier against Iran in September. FIFA later fined the Hong Kong Football Association for the incident.
The Thursday legislative session coincided with the 31st anniversary of China’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Before the debate began, pro-democracy lawmakers stood silently to mark the anniversary and posted signs on their desks saying “Don’t forget June 4, people’s hearts won’t die.”
The vote on the bill on the Chinese national anthem on Thursday coincided with the 31st anniversary of China’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Pictured: University students clean up the ‘Pillar of Shame’ statue, a memorial to the dead at the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown at the University of Hong Kong on June 4, 2020