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Hong Kong police arrest man for booing national anthem

Two men wave the China National flag and the Hong Kong SAR flag as they watch Siobhan Bernadette Haughey of Hong Kong swim in the women's 100-meter freestyle final at the 2020 Summer Olympics from a shopping mall in Hong Kong on July 30, 2021. (Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Hong Kong police arrested a man Friday on suspicion of insulting the national anthem, after he was allegedly caught booing the Chinese national anthem while watching an Olympic event at a mall.

The 40-year old man was allegedly waving colonial-era Hong Kong flags and booing, while urging others to join him in insulting the national anthem, according to a police statement posted on Facebook.

Hong Kong passed a law in June last year that criminalized any actions that insult the national anthem. Violating the law can mean a fine of up to $6,400 (50,000 Hong Kong dollars), and up to nine years in prison.

China’s central government criminalized actions that insult the national flag and emblem in amendments made to a law last October, which is also applicable to Hong Kong, a former British colony.

The 40-year old man was standing in a crowd with others to watch Hong Kong fencer Edgar Cheung in a match that would win him gold, local media reported.

The booing started at the medal ceremony, when the national anthem began playing.

Police said there may be additional arrests and that an active investigation is underway.