Hong Kong government seeks high court ban on protest anthem

FILE - Demonstrators hold their cellphones aloft as they sing "Glory to Hong Kong" during a rally at Chater Garden in Hong Kong, on Oct. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

The Hong Kong government has sought an injunction order from the city’s high court to ban the protest anthemGlory to Hong Kong,” which emerged during the massive demonstrations in 2019. If the injunction is granted, it would be the first song to be banned in Hong Kong since the handover to China in 1997. The government claims the song is often mistaken for the city’s official anthem, leading to confusion and potential incitement of secession or seditious intent.

“Glory to Hong Kong” was anonymously written in August 2019 and became the unofficial soundtrack of the city’s pro-democracy protests. The Cantonese lyrics include the key slogan “Break now the dawn, liberate our Hong Kong; in common breath, revolution of our times.” Since the introduction of Beijing’s national security law in 2020, it has become virtually illegal to sing or play the song.

The proposed injunction aims “to restrain anyone from disseminating or performing, etc, the song with the intention of inciting others to commit secession, or with a seditious intent, or … with the intent to insult the national anthem.” The government also seeks to ban “any adaptation” of the song or its melody. If granted, individuals in Hong Kong would be prohibited from broadcasting, performing, sharing, or reproducing the anthem.

Under the national security law, inciting secession carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Insulting the national anthem and sedition can result in prison sentences of three and two years, respectively, under separate legislation. Hong Kong does not have an official anthem, as China’s national anthem is the “March of the Volunteers.”

Since November of last year, the Hong Kong government has filed protests over the use of “Glory to Hong Kong,” citing instances where the song was mistakenly played as the city’s anthem at international sporting events. The government also requested that Google remove the protest song from its search results, but the tech company refused to comply.

Musicians who have publicly played the song have faced legal repercussions. Li Jiexin, 69 years old, is currently on trial for four counts of “unlicensed performance” after playing “Glory to Hong Kong” with an erhu, a two-string Chinese instrument, around the city in 2021 and 2022, reports Channel News Asia.

World News


Sara is a journalist and content writer who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics. Sara's journey in journalism began as a copywriter, and over time, her portfolio expanded to include articles and features for some of the nation's top lifestyle publications. Outside the office, she enjoys practising yoga and exploring hidden locations in Bangkok.

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