Home China Protest Anthem Could Be Weaponised, So Hong Kong Court Of Appeal Bans...

Protest Anthem Could Be Weaponised, So Hong Kong Court Of Appeal Bans It

China, Hong Kong

The erosion of Hong Kong’s civil liberties has been steady since the former British colony reverted to China’s control in 1997. The latest is the Hong Kong Court of Appeal ruling on Wednesday, which granted an application by the government to ban a protest anthem called “Glory to Hong Kong”, overturning a lower court judgment that had rejected such a ban because of its possible “chilling effects” on free speech.

The case has implications for internet freedoms and the operations of firms including internet platform operators (IPOs) and technology firms such as Google.

Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal judges Jeremy Poon, Carlye Chu and Anthea Pang wrote that the composer of the protest song had intended it to be used as a weapon.

“In the hands of those with the intention to incite secession and sedition, the song can be deployed to arouse anti-establishment sentiments,” the judges wrote.

The judges added that “an injunction is necessary to persuade the IPOs to remove the problematic videos in connection with the song” from their platforms.

“Although the IPOs have not taken part in these proceedings, they have indicated that they are ready to accede to the Government’s request if there is a court order.”

Nitin A Gokhale WhatsApp Channel

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian said during a regular press briefing that “preventing anyone from using or disseminating the relevant song… is a legitimate and necessary measure by (Hong Kong) to fulfil its responsibility of safeguarding national security”.

Hong Kong does not have its own anthem. “Glory to Hong Kong” was written in 2019 amid mass pro-democracy protests that year and was considered an unofficial national anthem, rather than China’s “March of the Volunteers”.

The court ruling targets those who broadcast or distribute the song with the intention of inciting others to commit secession, or those who suggest Hong Kong is an independent state, or who insult the national anthem.

Exceptions would only be granted to lawful academic and journalistic activities, the judges added. The Hong Kong government sought an appeal after High Court Judge Anthony Chan refused to ban the protest anthem last July, saying that it could undermine freedom of expression and cause potential “chilling effects”.

The government applied for the injunction last June, after it was mistakenly played at several international events as the official anthem, including a Rugby Sevens game and an ice hockey competition.

With inputs from Reuters