November 10 – Several hundred Hong Kong fans once again defied a Chinese law against disrespecting the national anthem when they booed the anthem at a match on Thursday.
Ahead of the start of an international friendly against Bahrain, a small segment of the crowd waved banners before jeering with cries of ‘We are Hong Kong, not China’. Others held up ‘Die for Hong Kong’ banners.
Hong Kong was recently issued with a warning by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) after their fans booed the anthem during an AFC Asian Cup qualifying win over Malaysia.
Formerly a British colony, Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under an agreement which is supposed to guarantee basic rights for the semi-autonomous territory. But China has passed new laws making disrespecting the March of the Volunteers anthem on the mainland a criminal offense with jail sentences of up to three years
The crackdown is reportedly about to apply to Hong Kong, once authorities enact a local version, though not retrospectively.
Much attention now focusses on next Tuesday’s Asian Cup qualifier against Lebanon when any further outbreaks of anti-Chinese sentiment could result in an AFC sanction after warnings that “a repeat violation may result in more severe punishment”.
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