Published: Tue, October 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Chinese live-streaming star detained over 'disrespect' towards national anthem during broadcast

Chinese live-streaming star detained over 'disrespect' towards national anthem during broadcast

What happened: On Saturday (October 13), Shanghai police revealed that Yang Kaili - a live-streaming celebrity better known as "Lige" - was detained for five days after singing the Chinese national anthem in a "disrespectful" manner online.

Under China's National Anthem Law, which came into force a year ago, those who sing the anthem in a "distorted or disrespectful way" can be detained for up to 15 days.

Hong Kong - In America, the refusal by some NFL players to stand for the national anthem touched off a roiling, year-long national debate about racial injustice, patriotism and freedom of expression.

The punishment was issued against 20-year-old Yang Kaili for beginning a segment by waving her arms as an orchestra conductor while singing a few words of the song for roughly 10 seconds during a livestream video.

Similar legislation is due to be implemented in Hong Kong and Macau after a number of incidents in which soccer fans in the former British colony booed the anthem before global fixtures. Huya, the streaming platform where she gave her national anthem performance, has suspended her account, causing her to lose more than 2 million followers.

Shanghai police said Yang "was disrespectful to the dignity of the national anthem and invited disgust among netizens".

The anthem law is one manifestation of how China's government under President Xi Jinping has emphasized nationalism and ideological discipline while cracking down on dissenting speech - or even jokes.

Some internet users expressed anger at her apparent levity while the police statement described her behaviour as "an insult to the dignity of the national anthem which repelled internet users". Those who insult the anthem can be detained for 15 days without trial. "I'm sorry. Sorry to the motherland, to the fans, to web users, and to the platform", Yang wrote on her Weibo account.

She also promised to cease broadcasting and said she would undertake "patriotic" education and activities.

"What I did has hurt your feelings", she said.

Soon after the controversy, Huya blocked Yang and took down all of her videos.

Yang had since apologised twice on Weibo, saying that she regretted her "foolish behaviour" and "stupid mistake", adding that she will stop all live-streaming sessions to conduct self-reflection.

"This is shameful. She is insulting the anthem and breaking the law", another added. Meanwhile, TikTok, another popular Chinese live-streaming site has also deleted all of her videos.

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