Hong Kong schools have been ordered to display the Chinese flag and sing the Chinese national anthem as the city begins enforcing a controversial anthem law
Students sing the national anthem in the playground during the flag-raising ceremony at their school in Shanghai., September 27, 2017.
CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP / Getty Images
The Hong Kong Education Department has instructed elementary and middle schools across the city to show the Chinese national flag and sing the Chinese national anthem on special occasions.
The new guidelines enforce a controversial new law passed earlier this month that makes insulting the Chinese national anthem a crime that can result in fines of up to HK $ 50,000 (approximately $ 6,400) or up to three years in prison .
While Hong Kong has more autonomy than the rest of the country, recent Beijing legislation has attempted to undermine this status, leading to widespread disagreement.
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The Hong Kong Education Office introduced new guidelines on Thursday calling on all elementary and middle schools in the semi-autonomous Chinese city to comply with new laws that came into force on June 12.
Legislation, known as the "National Anthem Ordinance," states that anyone who offends or commercially abuses China's national anthem - March of the Volunteers - can be fined up to HK $ 50,000 (approximately $ 6,400) or up to three years in prison can be punished.
The bill sparked controversy when it was first drawn up last year, although it ultimately passed the Hong Kong legislature with 41 votes in favor and one against. Similar laws already exist in mainland China.
According to the new guidelines, the Chinese national anthem must be sung during New Year celebrations, the anniversary of the city's handover to China on July 1, and the national holiday on October 1. Schools are also "strongly recommended" do this on "important days and special occasions" such as open days and graduation ceremonies.
"This is part of moral, civic and national education and helps to strengthen the sense of national identity of the students," said a spokesman for the education office in a statement announcing the new guidelines.
Schools were also ordered to investigate incidents of students or teachers who violated China's national anthem and should call the police, if necessary, according to the South China Morning Post.
While Hong Kong operates under "one country, two systems" and has more autonomy than the rest of the country, recent Beijing legislation has attempted to undermine this status, leading to widespread disagreement.
Last month, China introduced controversial national security laws for Hong Kong, which will allow China to develop and enforce national security laws in Hong Kong in the near future. The Chinese authorities have not yet released all the details of the proposal.
Democracy-friendly leader Joshua Wong tweeted last month that China's aggressive measures were "retaliatory measures" for months of violent clashes between demonstrators and police triggered by the deeply unpopular extradition law proposed last year.
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