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China says insulting national anthem punishable with 3-year jail term

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed an amendment to the country’s criminal law outlining punishments for people found “seriously” disrespecting the national anthem in public.

world Updated: Nov 04, 2017 21:39 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
China,Criminal offence,National Anthem
In this file photo, visitors watch a man appearing on a screen as he experiences a national anthem flag raising ceremony at an exhibition highlighting China's achievements at the Beijing Exhibition Hall. On Nov 4, 2017, China's rubber-stamp legislature made disrespecting the national anthem a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison.(AP Photo)

Disrespecting the Chinese national anthem is now punishable by imprisonment for up to three years and withdrawal of political rights, the official media reported on Saturday.

The amendment to China’s criminal law book was passed at a session of the country’s rubber-stamp Parliament, the National People’s Congress, in Beijing.

The new amendment gave details of what could constitute disrespecting the anthem – maliciously modifying the lyrics, and playing or singing the anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way in public.

One reason that prompted the amendment was the use of the anthem at family events such as weddings and funerals, and even in an advertisement jingle.

In 2014, China issued a regulation on the proper use of the anthem, banning the song from being performed or chanted at weddings and funerals or in commercial arenas.

The regulation stipulated the anthem could be played at the start of important celebrations or public political gatherings, formal diplomatic occasions and significant international gatherings.

It is, however, not mandatory in China to play the anthem in movie theatres.

The new amendment has laid out violations and punishments. It states that the accused could be held “criminally liable”.

“According to the amendment, punishments previously stipulated for national flag and national emblem desecration in public now also apply to serious acts of public disrespect to the national anthem,” official Xinhua news agency reported.

It added: “Punishments include deprivation of political rights, criminal detention and imprisonment of up to three years.”

China’s national anthem March of the Volunteers has lyrics by poet Tian Han and music by Nie Er, and was chosen in 1949 when modern China was founded.

“The song encouraged Chinese soldiers and civilians during the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression,” the report said.

A state media report said the song was broadcast across the world as late chairman Mao Zedong declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949. The song was reaffirmed as the national anthem in 1978.

“It is imperative that we adopt laws on the national anthem,” Yu Hai, who in his role as former head of the military band of the People’s Liberation Army has performed the national anthem since 1970, told Xinhua earlier this year.

“It has even been adapted and used as a jingle for an investment advertisement, with people frolicking about without any respect,” Yu said.

First Published: Nov 04, 2017 14:58 IST