China star detained for ‘anthem insult’

Clay Curtis
October 18, 2018

"The national anthem is solemn and sacred..."

To help regulate the internet and scrub it clean of "vulgar" material, China passed a separate cybersecurity internet law that went into effect a year ago, which severely restricts online content.

Yang Kaili, a 20-year-old with tens of millions of followers, had appeared on camera singing the anthem while flailing her arms around.

Yang Kaili, 21, posted a video of herself humming military music and singing the first line of the Chinese national anthem - the "March of the Volunteers" - on October 7, according to Inkstone News, a subsidiary of the South China Morning Post. Huya, the streaming platform where she gave her national anthem performance, has suspended her account, causing her to lose more than 2 million followers. The NPC changed the criminal law in November to allow those who disrespected the anthem to be jailed for up to three years.

Yang's punishment is the most high-profile arrest yet for violating a new national anthem law issued by China past year. "All citizens and organizations should respect the national anthem, and protect the integrity of the national anthem", the police said, adding live-streaming platforms were "not above the law". Yang wasn't detained for that long, but Shanghai police did say they had placed her in "administrative detention" for five days, according to CNN.

"Live-streaming webcast is not lawless territory and users should obey the law and uphold moral standards", they continued.

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The young woman said that she would immediately stop her live-broadcasting work and instead focus her attention on watching political propaganda films. "I'm sorry. Sorry to the motherland, to the fans, to web users, and to the platform", she wrote, promising to cease broadcasting and undertake patriotic education and activities. In her statement, she said she owed her success to the policies of the ruling Communist Party.

All of Ms Yang's videos on TikTok, another popular streaming app where she rose to fame and gained 44 million followers, were also deleted.

In mainland China, where nationalistic sentiment runs high and space for public debate is shrinking, there has been little discussion of the National Anthem Law since its implementation.

"My behavior deeply hurt everyone's feelings: Sorry. I will now perform self-rectification, draw lessons from the bitter experience, deeply reflect and fully accept education on ideological politics and patriotism".

The song was broadcast on a livesteaming website called Huya, which was listed on the New York Stock Exchange earlier this year.

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