Investigation Launched After Chinese Anthem Booed, Arrests Made Due to Children’s Books

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HONG KONG, CHINA - JULY 1: A guest holds a Chinese national flag during a morning flag-raising assembly at a secondary school marking the 24th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on July 1, 2021 in Hong Kong, China. Hong Kong marks the 24th anniversary of the handover from Britain.
HONG KONG, CHINA - JULY 1: A guest holds a Chinese national flag during a morning flag-raising assembly at a secondary school marking the 24th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on July 1, 2021 in Hong Kong, China. Hong Kong marks the 24th anniversary of the handover from Britain. (Image: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Hong Kong police have launched an investigation into the booing of the Chinese national anthem. It happened during the screening of an Olympic medal ceremony for Olympic gold medalist fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long representing Hong Kong. The police cited a new ‘national anthem law’ that was passed last year along with the contentious National Security Law (NSL). 

The incident occurred on Monday, July 26, at the APM mall in Kwun Tong, Hong Kong. 

A large crowd watched as Cheung received his gold medal. The Hong Kongers then booed and jeered as the Chinese national anthem played.

After the UK’s handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, Hong Kong athletes have competed in the Olympic Games under the country’s description of “Hong Kong, China.” The Chinese national anthem is played for gold medal ceremonies, but the Hong Kong flag is flown for athletes competing from Hong Kong.

Cheung’s win was the city’s second-ever Olympic gold; the first was won by windsurfer Lee Lai-shan at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. 

Videos are circulating online showing patrons of the mall shouting “We are Hong Kong!” during a broadcast of the medal ceremony drowning out the playing of the Chinese national anthem. 

Anyone found guilty of flouting the Chinese national anthem could be subject to upwards of three years of imprisonment and a fine of HK$50,000 (US$6,435).

A man was arrested at the mall after he was found to be carrying “about 10” British Hong Kong flags of varying sizes. Authorities stated that the man’s intent was to “incite hatred and politicize the Olympic Games,” Newsweek reported. 

Hong Kong police said that they are investigating whether or not anyone violated the NSL which Beijing passed into law on June 30, 2020. 

The incident occurred the same week as the conviction of the first person ever under the National Security Law. Tong Ying-kit, 24, was imprisoned for a total of 9 years after he was convicted under the city’s NSL.

Police are also reportedly collecting and examining surveillance footage from the mall’s security cameras to determine who may have violated one, or both, of the laws enacted to prohibit anything that incites “secession.” 

Children’s books banned, authors arrested

The incident follows the arrest of five members of the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists for “conspiring” to “publish, distribute, exhibit or copy seditious publications.”

The chairman and vice-chairman of the union were arrested. The secretary and treasurer were also arrested and had been formally charged following a raid of their offices.

Around 550 children’s books, pamphlets, and an array of computer equipment were confiscated during the raid. 

The books confiscated featured stories about a village of sheep who had to contend with a neighboring village of wolves. The sheep were interpreted to depict pro-democracy protesters who fought against riot police during the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. 

Steve Li, Senior Superintendent for the Hong Kong police force, told reporters at a news conference that the suspects sought to “stir hatred” among children against the city’s government and judicial system.

“Don’t think that these are simple story books,” Li told reporters. “These three books have a lot of seditious materials inside,” Nikkei Asia reported. 

The books published are entitled “The Guardians of Sheep Village,” “The Cleaner of Sheep Village,” and “The 12 Brave Warriors of Sheep Village.”

The books had previously been deemed not suitable for children by Undersecretary for Education Christine Choi. 

Officers asserted that the books could have a detrimental effect on the development of children’s morals. The damage could be “really, really great,” Li said.