Lawmakers on Wednesday passed changes to the law aimed at safeguarding the dignity of the Chinese flag and national emblem, spelling out in detail how they should be treated with respect and setting out rules on ceremonies in schools.
The SAR had a constitutional responsibility to implement the changes after the National People's Congress Standing Committee endorsed them last October.
The local legislators said as patriots, it was only right to better protect the dignity of the two national symbols, which had been insulted during anti-government protests in 2019.
"Looking back at the black riots, black-clad people repeatedly insulted the national flag and national emblem. As a Chinese, it pained [me]... to see such behaviour," said insurance sector lawmaker Chan Kin-por.
Under the bill, the national flag and emblem are not to be displayed upside down or discarded at will, or used in any way that undermines their dignity.
It also prohibits intentionally and publicly desecrating the national flag or emblem by burning, mutilating, scrawling on, defiling or trampling on them or their images.
It will be illegal to insult the flag and emblem in real life or online, with offenders liable to up to three years in prison and a fine of HK$50,000.
The bill also requires the SAR's schools and kindergartens to display the national flag and hold a flag-raising ceremony every week. Primary and secondary students must also learn about the flag's history.
Business and Professionals Alliance legislator Christopher Cheung said the requirement could cultivate patriotism in students but much more needs to be done.
"[The Education Bureau] should do more school visits, and keep a close eye on how schools teach about the national flag and emblem. The bureau should ask schools which are not following its instructions to correct their practice and punish them accordingly," he said.
Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing, meanwhile, said the authorities also need to teach the general public about the national flag and emblem.