Saturday, 4 November 2017

Forcing Respect for Chinese Anthem

Can one impose the national anthem on people who don't care much for it?
Sorry I have to interrupt my Silk Road tour coverage with the breaking news that China has imposed a national anthem law on Hong Kong. It just smacks of the further mainlandization of the city.

It is also partly Chinese President Xi Jinping flexing his muscles in the name of nationalism...

So now Chinese law states that if someone abuses the national anthem or the flag on the mainland, they can be jailed for up to three years.

Hong Kong football fans turn their backs while the Chinese anthem is played
While the same punishment does not apply in Hong Kong, the local government has issued a statement that it will implement the measure in an appropriate way consistent with Hong Kong's constitution or the Basic Law.

The city's lawmakers have called for public consultation and to have clear guidelines on how the law should be enforced without infringing on freedom of expression.

This latest development comes after football fans last month booed the playing of March of the Volunteers during international games in Hong Kong. It is the second time in two years. Twenty years after the handover and this was not the reaction Chinese officials were expecting from local footie fans.

"In recent years, incidents of disrespect against the national anthem have occurred in Hong Kong, challenging the bottom line of the principle of one country, two systems and social morality, and triggering rage among Chinese, including most Hong Kong residents," said Zhang Rongshun, deputy director for the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee.

"It is urgent and important to apply the national anthem law in Hong Kong in a bid to prevent and handle such offenses."

Really? The majority of Hong Kong residents? Did he survey all 7 million people? It's just like using the "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people" argument.

Anti-Chinese sentiment continues to simmer whether Beijing realizes it or not and these football fans are voicing their frustration through booing, turning their backs or even raising the middle finger when March of the Volunteers is played.

But now pro-Beijing forces are making a strong push back -- there are expectations now in Hong Kong that when the national anthem is played, people need to stand up -- and stand wherever they are, even if they are crossing the street.

"When the law takes effect, people will have to stand up and show respect when the anthem is played. That's for sure," said Ip Kwok-him, a Hong Kong deputy to the NPC and member of the Executive Council that advises the Chief Executive.

"Someone asked me whether people who are walking with have to stop. Yes, just stop."

We'll have to see how detailed the measures will be, but in the meantime, how can anyone blame Hong Kong people for not having respect for the national anthem? First they had God Save the King/Queen and now March of the Volunteers. These songs are hardly anthems that mean much to them and now they are being forced into respecting them instead of out of genuinely accepting the anthem.

Just in case you wanted to hear March of the Volunteers, here it is:

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