Hong Kong’s legislature on Thursday approved a contentious bill that criminalises insulting China’s national anthem, South China Morning Post reported.

According to the bill, those found guilty of misusing or insulting the national anthem – called March of the Volunteers – could be jailed for three years and a fine of Hong Kong $50,000 (over Rs 4.86 lakh) will be imposed. The bill orders that primary and secondary school students in Hong Kong should be taught to sing the national anthem, along with its history and etiquette, Reuters reported.

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang Kwok-wai said that the bill was being introduced out of respect to China, “our country and a civilisation with 5,000 years of history”. Erick said that only with respect to their country, it is meaningful to talk about “two systems”. “Without respect, it is groundless to talk about ‘one country, two systems’.” Under the “one country, two systems” policy, Hong Kong has its own legal, political and socioeconomic arrangements while being part of a unified China. However, millions have protested at mass rallies that began in Hong Kong last year, against the China regime.

The legislation was approved after pro-democracy opposition lawmakers tried to disrupt the vote. Pro-democrats Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen were forcibly removed after they rushed out from their seats, and Eddie emptied a bottle of brown-coloured liquid, forcing a suspension of the debate.

“A murderous state stinks forever,” Eddie said. “What we did today is to remind the world that we should never forgive the Chinese Communist Party for killing its own people 31 years ago.” China had killed pro-democracy protestors on this day at Tiananmen Square 31 years ago.

Later, Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung tried to storm the president’s podium, but he was stopped by security guards. He then dropped a jar of foul-smelling brown liquid on the ground, and was removed from the room.

The approval of the bill came after China’s legislature, on May 28, voted to approve a new security law for Hong Kong that will make it a criminal offence to subvert Beijing’s authority in the region. The controversial law is aimed at curbing protests, prohibiting subversion, separatism, “acts of foreign interference” and terrorism.

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