Hong Kong Asks Court to Stop Protest Anthem From Circulating Online

Ever since “Glory to Hong Kong” emerged as the unofficial anthem of pro-democracy protesters in 2019, the Hong Kong government has tried to suppress its use. This song was banned at school. Last year, the Hong Kong government demanded an investigation after he accidentally played the Chinese national anthem at a rugby match in South Korea.

Authorities this week asked a court to ban performances and online distribution of Glory to Hong Kong. The move could trap US tech companies like Google and mark the first legal test of how much control the Hong Kong government can exercise over online content.

The Hong Kong government has announced that it intends to ban the distribution or reproduction of the song “in any form”, including adaptations of the “melody and lyrics”. statement on tuesday. It said the song was used to “insult” the Chinese national anthem “March of the Volunteers”, causing “serious harm to the country and Hong Kong”. No date has been set for the court to hear the claim.

Hong Kong authorities have previously criticized Google showing the protest song under the search results for the Hong Kong national anthem.

“We have already sent a request to Google to pin the correct national anthem, but unfortunately Google refused,” Hong Kong Security Secretary Chris Tan said at a press conference in December. “I think this explanation is unthinkable and the people of Hong Kong will not accept it.”

The government’s request for a court injunction on Monday’s protest song comes as the Hong Kong government seeks to eradicate any vestiges of political dissent in Hong Kong, which once enjoyed political autonomy as a British colony. is the latest attempt. Under Chinese President Xi Jinping, Hong Kong has undergone a profound transformation from a thriving hub for foreign companies to a frontline for Beijing’s national security efforts.

Last week, police arrested and detained protesters and suspected mourners at an annual vigil held on the anniversary of the 1989 democracy movement in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

In applying for a court injunction against the Hong Kong protest anthem, the government cited the National Security Law enacted in 2020, which gave the Chinese government broad powers to crack down on what it sees as political crimes such as separatism and collusion. ing.

George Cheng, managing director of consulting firm Asia Group and former head of Greater China public policy at Meta, said that if the court’s injunction is granted, content in Hong Kong would be a big deal for U.S. tech companies. moderation is likely to be more complex and costly, he said. He said the government’s decision to use the courts had “opened the floodgates.”

Glory to Hong Kong can be found in Hong Kong on platforms such as Meta’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet.

according to Ming PaoThe court’s application, a centrist Chinese-language newspaper, cited 32 links on YouTube related to the song.

Google and Meta declined to comment. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

U.S. technology companies typically follow the rules of the countries and regions in which they operate, and sometimes remove content. The potential scope of the injunction in Hong Kong was not clear. Critics say the national security law was written to crack down outside Hong Kong.

“Anyone in the world could violate the Hong Kong National Security Law,” said Lokuman Tsui, former Google Asia-Pacific Freedom of Expression Officer. “The question is whether the scope of this injunction is similar.”

Refusal to comply with the Hong Kong court’s decision could put the company’s workforce and business in the region at risk, Tsui added.

For now, efforts to suppress the song seem to have increased interest in the song. On Wednesday, eight different versions of “Glory to Hong Kong” topped Hong Kong’s iTunes singles chart.

Even though China has been largely closed to foreign internet companies for many years, Hong Kong remains an exception, a hub where foreign companies can operate relatively free from the censorship restrictions they would face on the mainland. there were.

Willie Lam, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington think tank, said the Hong Kong government’s intensifying efforts to ban speech could further tarnish the city’s image as the financial and economic hub of China and Asia. rice field. “Already we have seen many multinationals move their workforce to Singapore and elsewhere, but we will see fewer multinationals based in Hong Kong in the future.”

“This is the new nail for Hong Kong,” he added.

Joy Don Contributed to the report.

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