Hong Kong parliament votes for national anthem bill despite protests

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The proposed national security law would ban sedition, secession and subversion against Beijing in Hong Kong, which previous year was roiled by anti-government protests calling for greater democracy and more autonomy from mainland China.

Police had banned the annual memorial for the first time in three decades, citing health concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier, Liberal Democrat parliamentarian Alistair Carmichael wrote to HSBC's chief executive officer, saying the bank's move had caused alarm in the House of Commons. The pro-democracy movement is concerned that this law will provide both the Beijing and Hong Kong governments with new powers to crush dissent. Pockets of protesters also fanned out throughout several shopping districts.

Still, some pro-democracy groups called for resisting the ban. If needed, Hong Kong can tap a currency swap line with the People's Bank of China, which will cover Hong Kong dollars and the greenback, he said.

The lenders joined other major businesses in Hong Kong voicing support for the law. He said that he did not have an estimate of the number of people attending the event because it was unofficial and spread out over the city.

Raising a sign that said 'A murderous regime stinks for ten thousand years, ' lawmaker Ray Chan walked to the front with the pot hidden inside a Chinese paper lantern. China also briefly banned the import of Canadian beef and pork, blaming it on a banned animal feed additive they claim was found in a shipment of Canadian pork.

It then announced last month at the annual meeting of its ceremonial legislature that it would impose national security laws on Hong Kong, circumventing the city's legislature and shocking many of its 7.5 million residents. "These are things we obviously are watching and following very carefully", Trudeau said. "We will do the same next year - come to Victoria Park and light candles to commemorate".

That unique status, created under the terms of British withdrawal from the territory in 1997, has given Hong Kong many advantages and preserved its location as one of two financial hubs in southeast Asia (alongside Singapore). "Payments made by credit, debit and charge cards accounted for 51% of the 40 billion payments made over the year, with contactless payments rising 16% to 8.6 billion", according to the bank lobbying group U.K. Finance. "I thought I must take him here to let him know that maybe later there will be no freedom, no freedom of speech".

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Most of the opposition lawmakers of the pro-democracy camp boycotted the vote.

The national anthem law makes "insulting" or "misusing" the Chinese national anthem punishable by a fine of up to £5,100 (HK$50,000) and a maximum penalty of three years' imprisonment. This and similar behaviour will now be a criminal offence when the law comes into force on 12 June.

The anthem, titled The March of the Volunteers, was written in wartime in the 1930s and calls on people to "arise, ye who refuse to be slaves!". The bill also stipulates that the anthem should be included in school education to teach students "the history and spirit of the national anthem".

As anti-government protests engulfed Hong Kong a year ago, thousands of fans booed loudly and turned their backs when the anthem was played at a World Cup qualifier match against Iran in September.

With the Victoria Park vigil banned, Hong Kongers are organising locally and getting creative, chiefly with the scattered candle-light ceremonies.

That impending law is now being drafted in Beijing and will be imposed automatically in Hong Kong via a rarely used constitutional backdoor, bypassing the city's legislature. Police and firefighters later arrived on the scene.

Thousands have been arrested over the demonstrations, which were sparked by proposed legislation that could have seen suspects extradited to mainland China where they could face torture and unfair, politically biased trials.

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