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Hong Kong Legislature Holds Final Debate on Chinese National Anthem

Members of the fire brigade conduct decontamination work in the main chamber of the Legislative Council after pan-democrat lawmakers hurled an odorous liquid during the third reading of the national anthem bill in Hong Kong on June 4, 2020, ahead of…

Hong Kong’s legislature began final debate Thursday on a controversial bill that would criminalize showing disrespect for China’s national anthem.

Thursday’s proceedings were interrupted when two pro-democracy lawmakers rushed to the front of the chamber and held up a sign that said “A murderous regime stinks for 10,000 years” before dropping a pot of stinking liquid on the floor. The lawmakers were ejected from the chamber.

The bill calls for anyone who intentionally insults the anthem by booing or any other means, to face up to three years in prison and fines of more than $6,000. The measure was introduced last year in response to fans regularly booing “March of the Volunteers” during football [soccer] matches.

The bill is expected to be approved sometime Thursday.

The global financial hub was engulfed by massive and often violent anti-government protests during the last half of 2019, sparked initially by a controversial extradition bill that eventually evolved into a demand for greater democracy. Many Hong Kongers fear their autonomy is steadily being eroded by a central government on the mainland that is increasingly meddling in its affairs.

The vote on the national anthem bill comes exactly a week after China’s rubber stamp parliament approved a new national security law for Hong Kong that would prevent and punish acts of “secession, subversion or terrorism activities” that threaten national security.