Last November 13, during a second leg match of the Asian Rugby Sevens Series in South Korea, the Chinese national anthem was replaced by the well-known pro-democracy protest song, “Glory to Hong Kong,” sparking the outrage of the Chinese regime.
The Korean Rugby Federation apologized to the Hong Kong government the following day, saying the incident was due to human error and was not politically motivated. They also apologized to the Asian Rugby Federation and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
For its part, the Hong Kong government expressed its fury, blaming the event organizers, and launched a police investigation in the country.
“The national anthem is a symbol of our country. The organizer of the tournament has a duty to ensure that the national anthem receives the respect it warranted,” a government spokesperson said. According to Voice of America on November 14.
“[W]e have already written to the Hong Kong Rugby Union last evening demanding them to deal with this matter seriously, launch a full and in-depth investigation and submit a detailed report, and convey our strong objection to Asia Rugby, who is the organizer of the Series.”
Adding to this, Hong Kong’s chief minister, John Lee, said that “the song that was played was closely connected to the 2019 violence and disturbances, and advocacy for Hong Kong’s independence.”
Lee, who previously served as a city police officer, was sworn in July this year to serve the CCP in his new post. Some critics consider this a move by the Chinese regime to tighten its control over the city because the authority was not democratically elected.
However, for many Hong Kong social media users, the incident was not a mistake, and one commented, “It’s the right Hong Kong national anthem, Glory to Hong Kong.”
This is not the first time such incidents have occurred at international sporting events. Last September 25, Hong Kong soccer fans booed the Chinese national anthem at a friendly match against Myanmar.
It was the first match open to spectators following the strict health quarantine measures imposed by the Chinese regime since the start of the pandemic.
According to the national security law, disrespecting the CCP anthem is a criminal offense. For this reason, police were seen filming the crowd during the match as they searched for the booing fans.
Although no arrests were reported, the event highlights the intolerance to freedom of expression imposed by the Chinese regime in Hong Kong; the city once considered the freest and most prosperous in Asia.
Added to this, another event in 2019 recorded similar episodes; during the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers, thousands of Hong Kong fans booed loudly and turned their backs when the Chinese national anthem was played before the match against Iran.
The song “Glory to Hong Kong,” whose lyrics call for democracy and freedom on the island, was composed by a local musician and sung by demonstrators during widespread protests in 2019 against the extradition bill.
The origin of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong
The extradition law was intended to convict offenses committed in Hong Kong in mainland China, where civil rights are virtually non-existent, severely affecting the judicial independence of the autonomous island.
The island’s residents enjoyed a certain amount of freedom and autonomy in their government for several generations. Let us remember that Hong Kong was ceded to the CCP, in 1997, under the condition that its form of government and laws were respected, hence the phrase “One country, two systems.”
However, the CCP, in its eagerness for absolute control, has been affecting the local government and implementing measures and laws that were detrimental to the local people.
The extradition law was not passed that year. However, the local government completely ignored four other measures that the people demanded, provoking social outbursts.
The five demands made by the citizens were: withdraw the extradition bill; do not label the protesters as “rioters”; drop the charges against the protesters; initiate an independent investigation into the behavior of the police, and free elections.
The city police continued to crack down severely on protesters; even the CCP central government sent in the People’s Liberation Army troops disguised as local police to commit brutality.
In mid-2020, the new National Security Law was introduced, which brought more protests to the city. Under this law, anything can be considered a threat to “national security.”
The Chinese authorities forced the passage of the law bypassing Hong Kong’s local legislature, and the text was kept secret from the public and presumably even from the Hong Kong government until after its enactment.
How did the national security law impact the lives of Hong Kongers?
The local government, in line with CCP directives, imposed in June 2020 the implementation of the “national security law,” which is not accountable to anyone and was passed without the consent of the Hong Kong government at the time.
According to Amnesty International, the law is dangerously vague and general. Under its provisions, practically anything could be considered a threat to “national security,” and it can be applied to anyone worldwide.
The new laws consider all those who demonstrate in defense of democracy and against communism as criminals. The CCP uses these measures to persecute political dissent and undermine the freedom of Hong Kongers.
Since implementing the measures, Hong Kongers have demonstrated peacefully and civilly. The city’s streets have been filled with millions of citizens opposing these changes. However, they were violently suppressed by the Chinese regime, allowing the rest of the world to witness the terrible repression.
What was once known as “one country two systems” is now becoming one country overwhelmed by CCP repression.