November 1 – Hong Kong has been issued a warning by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) after their fans booed the Chinese national anthem during a recent AFC Asian Cup qualifying win over Malaysia.
A section of Hong Kong’s supporters turned their backs on the national flag and jeered during the playing of ‘The March of the Volunteers’, prior to the start of the game, which Hong Kong won 2-0.
Chinese authorities recently made it an offence in mainland China to disrespect the national anthem although the new law has not yet been implemented in Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a formula that promises the city a high degree of autonomy.
Hong Kong play against Lebanon on November 14 and the AFC warned “a repeat violation may result in more severe punishment”.
Hong Kong’s fans have been at the forefront of protests against Chinese rule, with the national federation previously fined by FIFA, also for booing of the national anthem. But Hong Kong authorities say they will try to enact a law clamping down on those who boo the Chinese national anthem “as soon as possible.”
Hong Kong Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Patrick Nip said the city had a constitutional obligation to follow mainland China’s lead, a move viewed by some as a further erosion of Hong Kong’s freedom of speech.
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