BEIJING, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- China is drafting a law on the appropriate use of its national anthem, with violators, including those who maliciously modify the lyrics, facing criminal prosecution or up to 15 days detention.
The draft legislation was given a second reading at the bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, which opened Monday.
Lawmakers have made it illegal to use the national anthem at funerals and other "inappropriate" private occasions, in commercial advertisements or as background music at public places.
The song will only be allowed at formal political gatherings, including the opening and closing of NPC sessions, constitutional oath ceremonies, flag raising ceremonies, major celebrations, award ceremonies, commemorations, national memorial day events, important diplomatic occasions, major sport events and other suitable occasions.
Despite the restrictions, the legislation encourages people to sing the anthem on appropriate occasions to express patriotism.
The draft law states that the song should be included in textbooks for primary and secondary school students.
Currently, without a law to standardizes etiquette for the national anthem, the song is sometimes used in an unsolemn manner and is not universally respected and cherished within the country.
China has already adopted laws covering its national flag in 1990 and national emblem in 1991, but has none for its anthem, "March of the Volunteers," which has lyrics by poet Tian Han and music composed by Nie Er.
The original song greatly encouraged Chinese soldiers and civilians during the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-1945).
It was chosen as the national anthem in September 1949, and was broadcast across the world as the then chairman, Mao Zedong, declared the founding of People's Republic of China on Oct. 1, 1949. The national anthem was revised in 1978. The "March of the Volunteers" was reaffirmed as the national anthem in 1982.
The draft law specifies the legal consequences of using the anthem in an "insulting" situation. Those who maliciously modify the lyrics or play/sing the national anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way can be detained for up to 15 days or held criminally liable, said the draft.
The legislation governing the use of the national anthem is feasible, necessary and of great significance to foster and practise socialist core values and to promote the patriotism-centered spirit of the nation, said Zhang Haiyang, deputy head of the NPC Law Committee.