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September 29 (UPI) – Hong Kong lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill banning desecration of the Chinese national flag on the internet and stating that those who break the law can be sent to jail for up to three years.

The Legislative Council of the Territory adopted the amendment to an existing law that aims to protect the Chinese flag and the national emblem.

The change is aimed at “preserving the dignity” of the national flag and increasing Hong Kong’s sense of national identity.

Under this change, residents of Hong Kong are prohibited from “insulting” the flag and emblem both online and in person. It also forbids displaying them upside down and says none can be publicly desecrated by burning, mutilating, defiling or trampling.

The change in the law is in part the result of the 2019 anti-government protests, in which protesters openly stomped on and burned the Chinese flag. China has ruled Hong Kong since it was surrendered to British control in 1997.

The bill also requires schools to fly the flag, hold flag-raising ceremonies every week, and teach students about the history of the flag.

“[The Education Bureau] should make more visits to schools and keep a close eye on how schools teach the national flag and emblem, ”said Christopher Cheung, lawmaker for the Alliance of Business and Professionals. RTHK. “The office should ask schools that do not follow its instructions to correct their practice and punish them accordingly.”

Violators of the new law can be fined up to $ 6,500 and can be sentenced to up to three years in prison.

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