Anthem bill sparks new clashes in Hong Kong legislature

Hong Kong (AFP) – Clashes broke out in Hong Kong’s legislature for the second time this month on Monday as the town’s pro-democracy camp tried to scupper a controversial legislation that bans insulting China’s nationwide anthem.

Fighting erupted in the House Committee, a physique that helps scrutinise payments, with protesting pro-democracy lawmakers dragged from the chamber by safety guards and scuffles between rival camps flared up on the chamber ground.

The committee has been with no chief since October, which means no payments have made it to the legislature for a vote, together with one which criminalises ridiculing or altering the nationwide anthem.

Pro-democracy lawmakers have used filibustering and procedural delays to cease voting for a new chair. But in latest weeks pro-Beijing politicians have moved to interrupt the stalemate.

On Monday, the pro-government camp put in its personal stand-in to go the committee armed with exterior authorized opinion saying they’d the facility to finish the impasse.

But the pro-democracy camp says the strikes are unlawful, citing the authorized opinion of the legislature’s personal legal professionals.

During Monday’s scuffles, one pro-democracy lawmaker threw torn up pages of the legislature’s rulebook at his opponents. Others had been wrestled out the chamber by suited safety guards in facemasks and leather-based gloves.

The chaotic scenes are the most recent expression of an entrenched political disaster engulfing Hong Kong.

Under a deal agreed with Britain earlier than the town’s return to China, Hong Kong has {a partially} elected legislature and sure freedoms which can be unseen on the authoritarian mainland till 2047.

It is run by a pro-Beijing native authorities that’s appointed, not popularly elected.

Calls for larger democracy have snowballed in latest years as fears rise that Beijing is prematurely eroding Hong Kong’s freedoms.

Millions hit the streets final 12 months for seven months of pro-democracy rallies that always spun out into clashes between police and petrol bomb wielding protesters.

Those protests had been initially sparked by one other controversial bill that might have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

That bill, which was ultimately withdrawn, additionally sparked fights in the legislature earlier than the political unrest exploded onto the streets.

China’s leaders have dismissed well-liked anger in Hong Kong and as an alternative portrayed final 12 months’s protests as a foreign-sponsored plot to destabilise the motherland.

Beijing has made clear it needs new safety laws handed after final 12 months’s unrest, together with an anti-sedition legislation, the nationwide anthem bill — and extra patriotic schooling in colleges.

Democracy supporters say such strikes trip roughshod over the needs of most Hong Kongers and have warned it can spark new outbreaks of unrest.

Small protests have already begun effervescent up after 4 months of calm imposed by mass arrests and the coronavirus as social distancing measures start to ease.

Hong Kong’s native authorities started the new 12 months vowing the heal divisions however has made little try at reconciliation.