China considers three-year jail terms for disrespecting national anthem


China’s largely rubber-stamp parliament is considering tougher penalties for those who disrespect the national anthem, including up to three years in jail, state news agency Xinhua said on Tuesday.

In September, China passed a new law mandating up to 15 days in police detention for those who mock the “March of the Volunteers”, a law that also covers the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau.

Parliament is now looking at whether to amend the country’s Criminal Law to include criminal penalties for disrespect of the national anthem, Xinhua said.

A draft amendment has been submitted for deliberation at a bi-monthly session of parliament’s standing committee, which started Monday, it added.

“Violators in this regard may face punishments of up to three years of imprisonment, according to the draft.”

It is not clear when the amendment could be passed.

The anthem will only be allowed at formal political gatherings, including the opening and closing of NPC sessions, constitutional oath ceremonies, flag raising ceremonies, major celebrations, award ceremonies, commemorations, national Memorial Day events, important diplomatic occasions, major sport events and other suitable occasions.

It will be illegal to use the national anthem during funerals, “inappropriate” private occasions, commercials or as background music in public places, the draft said.

China has already adopted laws covering its national flag in 1990 and national emblem in 1991.

“The national anthem is different from other songs, it is the symbol of our country,” said well-known music composer Jin Fuzai. “The law ensures people will be more serious when playing or singing the song.”

Earlier reports said the national anthem should not be used in brand logos or advertisements, performed at funerals and other improper events or played as background music at public places, it said. Students in primary and middle school might have to learn the national anthem as the draft proposes to include the anthem into their texts books.

China’s national anthem is “March of the Volunteers,” with lyrics by poet Tian Han and music composed by Nie Er.

TNN