Protesters gather in Hong Kong over national anthem debateby Ian Brennan
Pro-Democracy protesters gathered in their thousands in Hong Kong today as senators debated a bill making abusing the Chinese national anthem a criminal activity.
Police gathered outside the legislative building in Hong Kong and warned the crowds to disperse before firing pepper balls at protesters in the central business district.
Police warned journalists to stop filming as more than 50 people were gathered up and made sit outside a shopping center in the Causeway Bay shopping district.
Meanwhile at least 166 people were arrested for possessing weapons such as petrol bombs and screwdrivers.
Legislators were due to debate a bill that would make insulting China's national anthem, "March of the Volunteers", illegal in the semi-autonomous city.
The punishment for committing the crime would be up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 50,000 Hong Kong dollars (€5,860).
The bill was first proposed in January 2019 after spectators from the city jeered during several high-profile football matches in 2015.
FIFA fined the Hong Kong Football Association last year after fans booed the Chinese national anthem at a World Cup qualifying game.
This follows years of anti-China feelings within Hong Kong, with series of protests last year which spanned several months as well as the 'umbrella revolution' protests in 2014.