As Americans debate whether the president was appropriate in criticizing football players who kneeled during the national anthem, China’s parliament is weighing whether it should amend its criminal law to provide three years of jail time for disrespecting the country’s flag or national anthem.
The three-year jail sentence would extend the current 15-day maximum provided under China’s current law, which passed in September. According to Reuters, Chinese law punishes desecrating the national flag or emblem and mocking the nation’s anthem, “March of the Volunteers.”
The new legislation came as Chinese president Xi Jinping cracked down on free speech and pushed legislation designed to protect China’s national security.
Zhang Rongshun, the deputy head of the Legislative Affairs Commission in China’s parliament, described affronts to the national anthem as challenging “social morality” in Hong Kong.
“In recent years, incidents of disrespecting the national anthem had 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,” Zhang said.
Some Hong Kong soccer fans have reportedly booed the national anthem, prompting reaction from sports organizations.