Three Hongkongers arrested for turning backs, sitting during China's national anthem

During Thursday's soccer game at Hong Kong Stadium, police said that two men and one woman were arrested after they 'turned their backs toward the pitch and did not stand for the playing of the national anthem.'

Three Hongkongers arrested for turning backs, sitting during China's national anthem
AP Photo
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Three people were arrested after they turned their backs and remained seated during China's national anthem, police say.

The incident took place prior to Hong Kong's home World Cup qualifier against Iran.

Fans of Hong Kong used to boo the Chinese national anthem as a display of political protest, but the practice was banned in 2020 as a part of a crackdown following pro-democracy protests in the city.

During Thursday's game at Hong Kong Stadium, police said that two men and one woman were arrested after they "turned their backs toward the pitch and did not stand for the playing of the national anthem."

“Police stressed that anyone who publicly and intentionally insults the national anthem in any way commits a crime,” police said, according to The Guardian.

They face up to three years in jail and a fine of $6,400 USD.

Hong Kong is an area administrated by China, but competes as its own nation in international sporting events.

The Hong Kong team became a symbol of civic pride during the 2010s and, at times, anti-government sentiment.

During this period, the Chinese national anthem was frequently drowned out by boos before Hong Kong matches, angering both local and mainland officials.

Shortly after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong in 2020, the financial hub enacted a separate local law criminalizing insults toward the anthem.

Legal experts and Western governments have warned that the rule of law in Hong Kong is at risk following China's imposition of security laws, which critics argue silence dissent.

However, Hong Kong’s government denies these claims, maintaining that the city remains a top jurisdiction.

Earlier this week, two senior British judges resigned from Hong Kong's highest court due to the "political situation" in the city.

The former UK Supreme Court justices were among the 10 overseas judges serving on the city's Court of Final Appeal, a legacy of Hong Kong's history as a British colony.

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