Hong Kong ramps up security ahead of controversial bill reading
Hong Kong has ramped up its police presence ahead of the second reading of a bill that would make it a crime to insult China's national anthem.
Water-filled barriers have been put up and riot police deployed in an attempt to deter any possible protests.
The reading comes days after China proposed implementing a controversial national security law, triggering a burst of unrest.
Critics called it a direct attempt to curtail the city's unique freedoms.
However, the city's leader Carrie Lam has denied that the national security law – which would ban treason, secession, sedition and subversion – would curtail the rights of Hong Kongers.
Increasing anti-mainland sentiment
If the anthem bill becomes law, anyone who misuses or insults China's national anthem, the March of the Volunteers, would face a fine of up to HK$50,000 (£5,237; $6,449) and up to three years in prison.
If it passes the second reading in the Legislative Council (Legco) on Wednesday, it could go to a third reading and a vote early next month.
Protesters have been urged to surround Legco and disrupt proceedings in an attempt to derail the reading.
However, the heavy police presence appears to have succeeded so far in deterring any large-scale protests. It is not clear if a protest will go ahead later.
Hong Kong does not have its own anthem – and so the Chinese anthem is sometimes played at events like football matches.
In recent years, the anthem has been booed frequently. The 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifier, for example, saw thousands booing when the Chinese national anthem was played before the start of the game.
Anti-mainland sentiment remains high in Hong Kong, fuelled especially by a proposed bill last year that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to China.
The bill triggered months of increasingly violent protests.
Last weekend saw the city's first large-scale protests in months, with people defying pandemic social distancing rules to march in protest of the proposed security law.
The proposal is seRead More – Source