Hong Kong is rapidly heading back to the levels of chaos that were seen on its streets last year. On Wednesday, city police fired pepper pellets at protesters as lawmakers gathered to debate a bill that would make it illegal to insult China’s national anthem. Local media reported that about 80 people were arrested Friday, some for carrying offensive weapons. It follows an outburst of anger that greeted Beijing’s attempts to implement a controversial national-security law that critics have condemned as a blatant attempt to whittle away at the city’s freedoms. The anthem bill would see anyone who insults China’s national anthem in Hong Kong slapped with a fine of up to HK$50,000 ($6,449) and given as much as three years in prison. The anthem has been booed by Hong Kongers at public events in recent years. Ahead of Hong Kong’s 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Bahrain last November, thousands booed as it was played.
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