Hong Kong court bans protest anthem, says it can be used as weapon
Hong Kong court bans protest anthem, says it can be used as weapon
Hong Kong court bans protest anthem, says it can be used as weapon
by DZRH News10 May 2024
FILE PHOTO: People raise their hands as they sing the protest anthem "Glory to Hong Kong" during an anti-government protest in the Central district of Hong Kong, China, November 30, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

By Jessie Pang

HONG KONG (Reuters) -Hong Kong's Court of Appeal on Wednesday 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 ruling comes amid what critics say is an erosion in Hong Kong's rule of law and individual rights amid a security crackdown by Beijing that has seen scores of opposition democrats jailed and shut down liberal media outlets.

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


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."


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian told a press briefing: "Preventing anyone from using or disseminating the relevant a legitimate and necessary measure by (Hong Kong) to fulfil its responsibility of safeguarding national security."

Hong Kong's Secretary for Justice said the government "will communicate with relevant internet service providers, request or demand them to remove relevant content in accordance with the injunction order".

Washington has expressed concerns over the erosion of rights in Hong Kong. The ban was "the latest blow to the international reputation of a city that previously prided itself on having an independent judiciary, protecting the free exchange of information, ideas and goods," U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters.

The former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the guarantee its freedoms would be preserved under a "one country, two systems" formula.


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.

Google told Reuters it was reviewing the judgment. It had earlier said it would not change its search results to display China's national anthem rather than the protest song when users search for Hong Kong's national anthem.

DGX Music, the music group behind the song, did not respond to a Reuters request to comment.

The song was banned in Hong Kong schools after China imposed a national security law in 2020. In March, authorities enacted another set of security laws that some foreign governments say further undermine rights and free speech.


Beijing rejects the accusation and says the security laws have brought stability.

(Reporting by Jessie Pang; additional reporting by Simon Lewis; Editing by James Pomfret, Michael Perry, Nick Macfie and Angus MacSwan)

Related Topics
listen Live
DZRH News Live Streaming
Most Read