Briefing: Popular livestreamer detained five days for 'disrespecting' national anthem

Briefing: Popular livestreamer detained five days for 'disrespecting' national anthem

Last year, the National People's Congress in Beijing, China's rubber-stamp legislature, demanded that Hong Kong adopt the National Anthem Law. "Huya respects the anthem and firmly protects its dignity", the company said in a statement, adding that Yang's behaviour reflected her lack of awareness of the "law and social responsibility".

Yang's detention is the first high-profile instance of Chinese authorities enforcing the anthem law, which was passed a year ago after Hong Kong soccer fans booed and turned their backs at the national anthem when their squad played against China's national team.

By contrast, conduct surrounding the national anthem has been a subject of heated debate in Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese city with broad protections for freedom of speech.

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In a video on the live-streaming platform Huya, 20-year-old Yang Kaili was shown humming marching music before she started to recite the first line of the national anthem while waving her hands as if conducting an orchestra. The NPC changed the criminal law in November to allow those who disrespected the anthem to be jailed for up to three years.

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Specifically addressing Yang's behavior, the police said the livestream video star "was disrespectful to the dignity of the national anthem and invited disgust among netizens".

"The national anthem is an embodiment and symbol of our country, and all citizens and organizations should respect and defend the honor of the anthem", Shanghai police said on social media, the Washington Post reported.

"Live streaming sites are not outside the law - the law and moral standards similarly apply there", police said via their verified Weibo account. In her statement, she said she owed her success to the policies of the ruling Communist Party. "Sorry to the motherland, sorry to my fans, sorry to everyone on the internet, and sorry to the platform". "My behavior deeply hurt everyone's feelings". She later added that she would "perform self-rectification, draw lessons from the bitter experience, deeply reflect and fully accept education on ideological politics and patriotism".

Yang has likely lost a lot of money from being unable to live-stream anymore. The video-streaming industry in China is lucrative, with some 609 million users around the country as of September, according to marketing news site The Drum.

Millions tune in to watch them, and viewers can send virtual gifts to their favourite live-streamers - who can then convert the gifts to cash. Yang had two million followers on the platform, before being suspended in the aftermath of her performance.

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