Hong Kong tells Google to bury protest tune in anthem searches

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HONG KONG — U.S. tech large Google is beneath growing strain by the Hong Kong authorities — and, by affiliation, China — to bury in its search outcomes a politically delicate pro-democracy tune that has been mistaken for the nationwide anthem.

The transfer exhibits the rising tensions between multinational tech giants and Chinese language authorities as Beijing seeks to cover any lingering dissent from the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong that started in 2019.

The Hong Kong authorities’s renewed concern over the tune got here after not less than two cases over the previous few months the place it was mistakenly used to signify Hong Kong athletes at sports activities matches.

The prospect revival of a Hong Kong protest tune has angered authorities

The looks of the tune at sports activities occasions overseas triggered offended reactions from Hong Kong authorities. On Monday, Chris Tang, the safety minister, mentioned the federal government will “make each effort to interdict such actions.”

He added on Wednesday in a information convention that “there is just one nationwide anthem. Different improper issues will at all times stay improper irrespective of how a lot you discuss it.”

On Tuesday, Hong Kong chief John Lee additionally mentioned that the federal government will proceed to correspond and comply with up with Google, and that it’s “doable to rearrange the search outcomes by way of commercials and take away objects” which have violated the regulation.

“Setting apart its authorized standing, the nationwide anthem represents the dignity and emotions of a rustic and its individuals,” Lee mentioned. “It’s an ethical situation. I imagine any accountable establishment should take it significantly.”

Beijing itself additionally weighed into the controversy and it was addressed on the each day Overseas Ministry briefing on Wednesday.

Spokesman Wang Wenbin mentioned that Beijing helps the Hong Kong authorities in “firmly safeguarding the dignity of the nationwide anthem” and that the “web firms are obliged to convey the proper data to the general public, somewhat than enable false data to unfold.”

Since Hong Kong’s handover from British rule to Beijing in 1997, Hong Kong’s official anthem has been the identical as China’s — “March of the Volunteers.”

In the course of the 2019 protests, nonetheless, demonstrators popularized the pro-democracy tune, “Glory to Hong Kong,” which broadly got here to be seen because the “anthem” of the motion — apparently complicated Google’s search algorithms.

Thousands and thousands marched in peaceable protests towards an extradition invoice that 12 months, however elevated violence amid a heavy-handed police response, and the protesters’ shifting targets, noticed Beijing in 2020 impose a nationwide safety regulation that has been used to crack down on freedoms of protest, speech and educational analysis.

A Google spokeswoman declined to remark however mentioned its search outcomes are decided by its algorithms. The corporate says it solely removes content material that violates its insurance policies or are deemed unlawful in several jurisdictions.

The highest outcomes of an English search of “Hong Kong nationwide anthem” on Google is the Wikipedia web page for “Glory to Hong Kong” with textual content saying that some have dubbed it the “nationwide anthem of Hong Kong.” The subsequent result’s the Wikipedia entry for “March of the Volunteers,” and the video choices are clips of the pro-democracy tune on YouTube.

Hong Kong’s once-vibrant film trade now walks a wonderful China line

In November, a lawmaker staged a protest at Google’s Hong Kong workplace, delivering a letter at reception saying that as a giant company, Google has a “accountability” to delete the “tune about Hong Kong independence.”

A number of different members of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing legislative council flagged the severity of the incident and demanded the federal government usually examine search outcomes and inform the service suppliers to take away “inaccurate data involving nationwide sovereignty.”

The anger towards a world tech agency is out of character for Hong Kong, the place entry to data on-line stays largely free versus that within the mainland, and such openness is a part of its attraction for multinational firms.

In Dubai two weeks in the past, the pro-democracy tune was performed after which reduce quick when the Hong Kong gold medal winner at a weightlifting competitors alerted organizers.

In November, an instrumental model of the tune was performed in full at a world rugby match that includes the Hong Kong staff in Incheon, South Korea.

Hong Kong authorities instantly launched a police investigation and the chief secretary summoned the South Korea’s consul to inform him the federal government “strongly deplores and opposes the incident” and request an inquiry.

On Monday, the police arrested a 49-year-old man beneath a sedition regulation and accused him of sharing footage of the South Korea incident and expressing gratitude to Incheon for “recognizing the Hong Kong nationwide anthem.”

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