Internet firms have complied with injunction against ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ protest song, city leader John Lee says

Lee, speaking ahead of the weekly meeting of the city’s key decision-making Executive Council, said the government would notify relevant platforms about the court order if it noticed any non-compliance.

The government later clarified that Lee was only referring to links specified in the injunction and Google search in Hong Kong.

The Court of Appeal banned the circulation of “Glory to Hong Kong” earlier this month on the grounds that it had become a “weapon” that could be used to arouse anti-government and separatist sentiment.

Chief Executive John Lee says the government will monitor the situation. Photo: Elson Li

The court document listed YouTube videos of 32 versions of the protest song that could be found in breach of the intended injunction, including instrumental covers, as well as those sung in Mandarin, English, German, Dutch, Japanese and Korean.

The song has mistakenly been played instead of the Chinese national anthem “March of the Volunteers” at several major sports in recent years.

Last Wednesday, US-based video-streaming giant YouTube said it had complied with the order by blocking access to 32 clips for viewers in the city.

But a Post check on Tuesday still found many Google search results for the song, with different versions on YouTube. At least 30 versions, which were uploaded with the hashtag “back up”, have been uploaded since the injunction was issued.

The song remains available on music streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music, and appears as the top results when searching for “Hong Kong National Anthem” on Google and YouTube.

Asked if authorities had any plans to request other online platforms to comply with the injunction, Lee merely said the government would monitor the situation and that he believed that operators in general operated within the law.

The injunction, which ruled in favour of the government, bans people from “broadcasting, performing, printing, publishing, selling, offering for sale, distributing, disseminating, displaying or reproducing [the song] in any way” with the intention to incite others to separate Hong Kong from the rest of the country, commit a seditious act or insult the national anthem, “March of the Volunteers”.

It also prohibits anyone from playing the song in a way likely to cause it “to be mistaken as the national anthem insofar as [Hong Kong] is concerned” or suggest the city “is an independent state and has a national anthem of her own”.

Hong Kong-based technology lawyer Joshua Chu described what the city’s government achieved so far with the injunction order as “a consolation prize” for its original aspiration to “wipe the song from the internet”.

“Despite the fanfare and publicity surrounding the order, its actual effectiveness may fall short of the government’s aspirations in the absence of further court orders from host nations overseas,” he explained.

The lawyer added the 32 links were still accessible from within Hong Kong as long as a foreign mobile sim card is used.

Executive Council member Ronny Tong Ka-wah said the injunction effect was limited by geographical boundaries.

“As the order cannot be enforced elsewhere, I think it’s better to seek cooperation than making any empty threats,” he said when asked whether it was wise for the government to refrain from taking further action targeting the song.

Lawmaker Doreen Kong Yuk-foon said the injunction order did not list the song as a “forbidden” in Hong Kong.

“I think the government would like the injunction order to convey a message to the society that it is determined to safeguard the solemness of the national anthem and people should respect that,” she said.

The lawmaker added she expected discussions between the government and Google would be held in the future on matters concerning search results for the national anthem still showing the protest song at the top.


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