China Seeks to Criminalize Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protest Song

HONG KONG, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 12: A protester holds his hand against his chest as he sings the Glory to Hong Kong protest "anthem" during a demonstration in Times Square shopping mall on September 12, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Pro-democracy protesters have continued demonstrations across Hong Kong despite the …
Carl Court/Getty Images

Hong Kong’s Beijing-controlled government sought a court injunction Monday against the song “Glory to Hong Kong,” which became the anthem of the massive 2019 pro-democracy movement.

China illegally imposed a tyrannical “national security law” on semi-autonomous Hong Kong in 2020 to crush the movement and is now using that law to ban the protest song as inherently seditious.

The Hong Kong Department of Justice said it applied for a court order against the song on Monday because it supposedly calls for “secession” from Communist China. The filing asserted that the continuing popularity of the short and perky protest song over the dreary Communist anthem “March of the Volunteers” was an “insult” to the regime in Beijing.

The government wants Hong Kong’s High Court to prohibit those with “criminal intent” from “broadcasting, performing, printing, publishing, selling, offering for sale, distributing, disseminating, displaying or reproducing in any way” the forbidden song.

China’s state-run Global Times quoted “Chinese experts” who hyperventilated about the urgent need to defend Beijing’s honor by obliterating “Glory to Hong Kong,” or else foreigners might keep using it as the Chinese national anthem:

“The HKSAR [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region] government now has conveyed a clear message, any distribution or promulgation of the song will be a criminal offense. This is an essential act to restore and secure the dignity of the National Anthem,” Chu Kar-kin, a veteran current affairs commentator based in Hong Kong and a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Anyone who deliberately facilitates the wrongful act is now liable. Representatives from Hong Kong who participate in those events should be cautious to prevent embarrassment and liability, Chu said. 

The purpose of the HKSAR government applying for the injunction is to restrain anyone from disseminating or performing the song, with the intention of inciting others to commit secession, or with a seditious intent, the HKSAR government said.

The requested court order would prohibit any playing of “Glory to Hong Kong” that might be “mistaken as the national anthem” or suggest Hong Kong is “an independent state and has a national anthem of her own.”

The Hong Kong filing included 32 versions of the song in various languages and demanded all of them be criminalized, along with every other version anyone ever creates, and also demanded criminal penalties for “helping or knowingly allowing others” to spread the tune.

The lyrics of “Glory to Hong Kong” urge the people of the region to resist becoming “slaves” and fight with “valor and wisdom” to defend their freedom.

A line from the song “Revolution of Our Times” became the slogan of the 2019 democracy uprising.

The Hong Kong government outlawed that slogan in June 2020, but democracy activists found clever ways to keep using it, including simply waving blank sheets of paper and inviting observers to imagine “Revolution of Our Times” was written there — a tactic later embraced by the anti-lockdown protests of November 2022 in China.

Watch — China: Hundreds Protest Communist Censorship by Holding Up Papers Saying…Nothing

During the 2019 protests, crowds gathered to sing “Glory to Hong Kong,” often while raising their hands with five fingers outstretched — a protest salute that evoked the “Five Demands” made by the movement.

Protestors raise five fingers to represent the “Five Demands” of the pro-democracy movement at a shopping mall in the Shatin area of Hong Kong on September 11, 2019, and sing “Glory to Hong Kong.” (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)

Beijing’s puppet government in Hong Kong began trying to quash the song as soon as the “national security law” was in place. A young street musician named Oliver Ma was arrested in May 2021 for merely adding the popular song to his rotation during a non-political performance, as he had been doing for months beforehand.

The police claimed they arrested the busker for causing “disorder in a public place.” Later, they tried charging Ma with violating coronavirus social distancing rules but then gave up on persecuting him, as he was acquitted in May 2023.

“Would I be performing the song again? At this time, probably not. But it was really nice to have had a chance to sing it,” Ma said upon his acquittal, neatly demonstrating how quasi-legal tyranny works.

The Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) on Wednesday suggested the fruitless prosecution of Ma, and another recently flubbed court case against someone who played “Glory to Hong Kong” as the national anthem at a sporting event, were major reasons why the Hong Kong government decided to seek a total censorship injunction against the song.

In November 2022, the Hong Kong government furiously demanded an apology when a South Korean rugby tournament played “Glory to Hong Kong” instead of the Chinese national anthem. One of Beijing’s stooges in the Hong Kong legislature, Junius Ho, demanded the dissolution of the entire rugby team because the players stood quietly while the anthem was played. Hong Kong police investigated the incident as an act of espionage, even though the tournament organizers said playing the protest song was a simple mistake.

The Hong Kong government pressured Google in December 2022 to manipulate search results to hide “Glory to Hong Kong” after it was played at another sporting event. Hong Kong officials furiously denounced Google for refusing the demand. 

Chinese officials often claim “Glory to Hong Kong” keeps getting played at foreign events as the Chinese national anthem because it comes up in search results first. Google noted that might be because Internet users not trapped in the fetid backwater of China’s heavily-censored Internet tend to search for the famous protest anthem more often than they look for the plodding “March of the Volunteers.”

In a detail that will be depressingly familiar to free speech defenders around the world, the Hong Kong puppet government claimed it fully “respects and values the rights and freedoms protected by the Basic Law” — the rights, including free speech, supposedly guaranteed for Hong Kongers after the United Kingdom handed control of the region over to Communist China in 1997 — but added that “free speech is not absolute.”

In other words, the people of Hong Kong are completely free to say anything that does not anger the thin-skinned Communist despots that now run the region. In theory, according to the court filing, they would even be allowed to play “Glory to Hong Kong” in a non-seditious way — but, of course, every performance of the song will be instantly declared seditious and prosecuted.

Flashback — Free Hong Kong Activist: China Wants to “Silence and Suppress,” “Buy Off” to Gain Appearance of Legitimacy

Matt Perdie / Breitbart News


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