Hong Kong to amend bill to ban online insults to Chinese national flag, emblem
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government introduced a draft amendment to the National Flag and National Emblem Bill to the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Wednesday. The bill would ban online insults to the Chinese national flag or emblem, and extend the prosecution to up to two years, local media said.
The Hong Kong government is scheduled to introduce the draft amendment on August 18 for first and seconding readings, according to a statement published on the government website on Wednesday afternoon.
“The government will fully complement the work of the LegCo in scrutinizing the bill to strive for its early passage,” the statement said.
After the amendment, intentionally insulting the national flag and emblem, whether in real life or in the virtual internet world, will be a crime, Hong Kong news outlet Wen Wei Po quoted the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau as saying on Wednesday.
To give police enough time to investigate online insults – such as the posting of defiled images of the national flag or emblem – the draft amendment proposes extending the time limit for prosecution to two years after the date of the crime, or one year after the date of the police hearing about the crime, Wen Wei Po reported.
The punishments remain unchanged: “a fine of level 5 and up to three years’ imprisonment.” A level 5 fine refers to HK$50,000 ($6,426), the Global Times found in earlier official documents.
“The government proposes implementing the two amended national laws in Hong Kong by amending the National Flag and National Emblem Ordinance, instead of by promulgation,” with regard to the common law system practiced in Hong Kong, the government statement said.
“This approach is consistent with the ‘one country, two systems’ principle,” it noted.