China criminalises insults to national flag – including turning it upside down

China has amended a law to make the intentional insulting or defacing of its national flag and emblem a criminal offence.

The amendments to the National Flag and National Emblem Law, which were passed on Saturday by the Standing Committee of China‘s congress, will ensure anyone who intentionally burns, mutilates, paints, defaces or tramples the flag and emblem in public will be investigated for criminal responsibility.

It will also prohibit the flag from being discarded, displayed upside down, or used in any way that could be seen to damage its dignity.

Image: Intentional insulting of the Chinese flag will be outlawed from 1 January

The revisions come as a result of proposals made after anti-government protesters in Hong Kong regularly desecrated the Chinese flag last year.

One such incident saw demonstrators trample on a flag and set it on fire in a shopping centre, while another saw a flag dumped in the city’s harbour.

At least three protesters at the time were sentenced for the desecration.

The passed amendments will now come into effect on 1 January, and will also apply to offices in Hong Kong and Macao that are set up by the central government.