June 4 (UPI) -- Hong Kong's Legislative Council passed a law on Thursday that criminalizes insulting the Chinese national anthem, "March of the Volunteers," with a fine of up to $6,450 or a three-year jail term.
The bill passed with 41 legislators in favor of punishing offenders after pan-democrats, critical of the council's pro-Beijing majority, issued last-minute protests, the Hong Kong Free Press and the South China Morning Post reported Thursday.
Hong Kong's pan-democrats, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and Raymond Chang Chi-chuen, demonstrated their opposition to the bill by pouring out a bottle of brown-colored liquid, forcing the debate to be put on hold, according to reports.
The two politicians were "forcibly removed" by security guards, according to the Post.
Protests did not stop following the expulsion. Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung dropped a jar of "foul-smelling brown liquid" before being forced out, the report says.
Hong Kong's pro-Beijing lawmakers argued in favor of the bill on Thursday. Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang Kwok-wai said the bill respects China, "our country and a civilization with 5,000 years of history."
"Only with respect to our country, it is meaningful to talk about 'two systems.' Without respect, it is groundless to talk about 'one country, two systems'," he said.
Pan-democrats disagreed, on the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
"We should never forgive the Communist Party that killed its own people 31 years ago without holding anyone accountable. Such a shameful regime stinks forever," Chu had said.
Tsang suggested the vote was legitimate because the council had held 17 meetings; the law is expected to go into effect as early as June 12.
A Tiananmen anniversary vigil has been banned in Hong Kong due to coronavirus measures, Hong Kong police said, according to the BBC.
On June 4, 1989, Beijing's troops and tanks opened fire on pro-democracy protesters in the Chinese capital, killing anywhere from a couple hundred to thousands of people, according to various estimates.