Hong Kong's executive said on Tuesday it had asked a court to ban the pro-democracy chant that sprung up during the massive 2019 protests in the city-territory.
If justice gives reason to the Hong Kong authorities, Glory to Hong Kong would become the first song to be legally prohibited since the return of this former British colony to China in 1997. This song, written by an anonymous author, had sounded for the first time in the city in August 2019, and had become the anthem of the huge demonstrations, sometimes violent, in favor of democracy.
The Hong Kong executive said on Tuesday that it had decided to take legal action after the song was repeatedly played instead of the Chinese national anthem at sporting events abroad. Since last November, Glory to Hong Kong has repeatedly sounded at international sporting events, sparking the exasperation of authorities.
Officially, Hong Kong does not have a national anthem but China's, the March of the Volunteers, is traditionally played. Any insult to the national anthem is liable to penalties ranging from three to two years in prison.
The injunction that the Hong Kong authorities are asking the court to adopt "aims to prevent anyone from broadcasting or performing, etc., the song with the intention of inciting others to secede, or with the intention seditious, or...with intent to offend the national anthem". The executive is also seeking to prohibit "any adaptation" of the song or its melody. He asked the Google search engine to remove the protest song from its search results, but the American giant refused to comply.
It is already illegal to sing this song or play its melody in Hong Kong, under a drastic national security law imposed in 2020 by Beijing to muzzle political dissent.
The musicians who performed it in public were prosecuted by the authorities. Li Jiexin, 69, is currently on trial for "unlicensed performance" after performing Glory to Hong Kong with an erhu, a two-stringed Chinese instrument, across the city in 2021 and 2022.