After “Glory to Hong Kong” emerged because the unofficial anthem of pro-democracy demonstrators in 2019, the federal government of Hong Kong has tried to stifle its use. It has banned the music from faculties. When it was performed in error final 12 months as an alternative of the Chinese nationwide anthem at a rugby match in South Korea, the Hong Kong authorities demanded an investigation.
This week the authorities requested a courtroom to ban the general public efficiency and on-line dissemination of “Glory to Hong Kong.” The transfer might ensnare U.S. know-how corporations like Google and arrange the primary authorized take a look at of how a lot management the Hong Kong authorities can wield over on-line content material.
Hong Kong is searching for to ban the distribution or replica of the music “in any way,” together with variations of its “melody or lyrics,” the federal government stated in a assertion on Tuesday. It stated that the music had been used to “insult” the Chinese nationwide anthem, “The March of the Volunteers,” inflicting “serious damage to the country” and to Hong Kong. A date for the courtroom to listen to the request has not been set.
The Hong Kong authorities had beforehand criticized Google for displaying the protest music underneath search outcomes for Hong Kong’s nationwide anthem.
“We’ve already sent a request to Google to pin the correct national anthem but, regrettably, Google refused,” stated Chris Tang, the Hong Kong safety secretary, at a news convention in December. “I find this explanation unthinkable and the Hong Kong people will not tolerate it.”
The authorities’s request for a courtroom injunction towards the protest music, made on Monday, is the most recent try by Hong Kong to root out the remaining vestiges of political dissent within the metropolis, a former British colony that when loved extra political autonomy. Under China’s president, Xi Jinping, Hong Kong has undergone a stark shift from its days as a affluent hub for overseas companies to a frontier in Beijing’s marketing campaign to safeguard nationwide safety.
Last week, an annual vigil held on the anniversary of the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing was shut down by officers, who arrested and detained protesters and suspected mourners.
In making use of for the courtroom injunction towards the Hong Kong protest anthem, the federal government cites its nationwide safety legislation, which was enacted in 2020 and gave Beijing sweeping powers to crack down on what it deemed to be political crimes, together with separatism and collusion.
If granted, a courtroom injunction would probably make moderating content material in Hong Kong extra sophisticated and costly for U.S. tech corporations, stated George Chen, managing director for the consulting agency The Asia Group and former head of public coverage for Greater China at Meta. He stated the federal government’s resolution to make use of the courtswas “opening the flood gates.”
“Glory to Hong Kong” could be present in Hong Kong on such platforms as Meta’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which is owned by Google’s mother or father firm, Alphabet.
According to Ming Pao, a centrist Chinese-language newspaper, the courtroom software cited 32 hyperlinks on YouTube associated to the music.
Google and Meta declined to remark. Twitter didn’t reply to requests for remark.
U.S. know-how corporations sometimes observe the foundations of the nations and areas the place they function and, at occasions, take away content material. The potential scope of an injunction in Hong Kong was not clear. Critics say the nationwide safety legislation was written with the intent of policing conduct even exterior of Hong Kong.
“Anyone in the world can violate the Hong Kong national security law,” stated Lokman Tsui, former head of free expression for Asia Pacific at Google. “The question is whether this injunction is similar in scope.”
Refusal to adjust to a choice by a Hong Kong courtroom might endanger an organization’s workers and enterprise within the area, Mr. Tsui added.
For now, the efforts to suppress the music seem to have pushed a wave of curiosity in it: On Wednesday, eight completely different variations of “Glory to Hong Kong” topped the singles charts of iTunes in Hong Kong.
For years, whilst China has been largely closed off to overseas web corporations, Hong Kong remained an exception — a hub the place overseas companies might function comparatively freed from the censorship controls they’d face on the mainland.
The escalation of the Hong Kong authorities’s efforts to proscribe speech might additional injury the town’s picture as a monetary and financial middle for China and Asia, stated Willy Lam, a senior fellow at Jamestown Foundation, a assume tank in Washington. “We’ve already seen many multinational businesses move their personnel to Singapore and other places, now there will be less multinationals choosing to base themselves in Hong Kong.”
“This is another nail in the coffin for Hong Kong,” he added.
Joy Dong contributed reporting.
Source web site: www.nytimes.com