Face Off: should mocking the Chinese national anthem be banned?

Face Off: should mocking the Chinese national anthem be banned?

Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint. This week...


The force of the law may be invoked on any who mock the anthem.
Photo: K. Y. Cheng/SCMP

Lauren Faith Lau, 17, International Christian Quality Music Secondary and Primary School
Yes, I believe so. Booing the Chinese national anthem is like disrespecting a relative at a family reunion. We, as Hong Kong people, are unquestionably connected to China; it is our motherland, and for us to make fun of our national anthem is, in a way, insulting ourselves.

As much as we would like to be removed from the heated political debate between Hong Kong’s pan-democrats and the mainland, it doesn’t help to add to the conflict.

There are certain lines any respectable person shouldn’t cross, and mocking the national anthem of your country is one of them. In fact, this applies to all national anthems, regardless of your nationality.

Despite the many grudges we may have against the mainland, a recognition of our shared identity is necessary. This may be difficult because of our British colonial past but we have to start embracing our roots; this could start with respecting the spirit of our country and paying tribute to the leaders and soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the cause. We are expected to show this respect by singing the national anthem.

Mocking the Chinese national anthem is also harmful to society. Being a part of this community, every one of us should try our best to be good role models to others, especially the younger generation. This is crucial if we want to maintain a peaceful and harmonious society.

Ordinary people are responsible for promoting patriotism and nurturing core Chinese values. These things cannot be neglected by a civilised society. Singing the national anthem is one of our most important civic duties, and mocking it should not be tolerated.

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Christopher Kwok, 17, Discovery College
In short, no, it should not be banned. The main purpose of a national anthem is to rally support and create a feeling of unity within a country. Unity cannot be achieved if there is conflict; a nation must have the same ideals and beliefs (at least, that is what the governing powers wish to achieve).

But conflict is inevitable; we all think differently, so imposing a ban on mocking the national anthem wouldn’t make much of a difference. Often, banning something makes it all the more desirable.

If we look at the past, there are many books and movies that have become even more popular after they were prohibited. For example, the 2015 Hong Kong film Ten Years was pulled from cinemas because it offended China. The film offers a vision of Hong Kong in the year 2025. There are limitations on human rights and freedoms, as Beijing exerts increasing influence over the city.

Due to high demand, the movie was later screened in different public locations and educational institutes. It ended up winning the prize for Best Film at the Hong Kong Film Awards.

According to a New Statesman article published in 2011, “banning things often creates new problems … Being banned does not thereby stop the thing from happening. It just means that the legal system will be engaged in a way it otherwise would not be”.

What would be the objective of the ban? To avoid hurting the patriots’ feelings? To make the country look better?

It is impossible to totally control everyone’s actions, much less their opinions. By banning the mocking of the anthem, the government would be unnecessarily involved with an issue when more important work needs to be done. Also, much like George Orwell’s 1984, would the ban mean that the government is constantly monitoring the actions of every individual to make sure they are abiding by the rules? This goes against the basic values of the national anthem, particularly the part about being proud of your country.

Edited by Nicole Moraleda

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Should mocking the Chinese national anthem be banned?


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