China detains internet star for ‘disrespecting’ national anthem in 10-second segment

China detains internet star for ‘disrespecting’ national anthem in 10-second segment

Chinese authorities have detained a major live-streaming celebrity for five days for "being disrespectful to the national anthem", according to Shanghai police.

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

Yang was introducing an "online music festival" when she hummed the beginning of a ceremonial tune called Athletes March, before singing the opening words to the national anthem March of the Volunteers while waving her arms in the air like a conductor.

"The national anthem is a symbol of the country, all citizens should respect [it] and safeguard [its] dignity", it said.

The law that Yang had violated was one that China adopted last October which made it illegal to play or sing the national anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way.

Local media reported that Ms Yang had about 44 million followers on Huya, which is similar to popular western site Twitch, before her account was taken down.

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. Those who insult the anthem can be detained for 15 days without trial.

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"The national anthem is solemn and should not be sung in a live-stream room", Yang wrote in an apology and self-criticism to her 1.1 million followers on Twitter-like platform Weibo.

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". "Sorry - so sorry - to my homeland, sorry to my fans, sorry to netizens, sorry to the online platforms", she said.

Yang, known by her ironic handle that translates to "Brother Li OvO", rose to fame covering pop songs on the live-streaming app Tik Tok, where she amassed more than 44 million followers.

"This is shameful. She is insulting the anthem and breaking the law", another added.

Yang apologized last week in a Weibo post, vowing to stop live streaming, to conduct "self-rectification" and "seriously watch patriotic publicity films".

A few months ago, she was blocked by Kuaishou, a rival app to TikTok, for asking fans for 30,000 yuan (S$5,961.60) to add her on WeChat, China's most popular social media platform. "The anthem is sacred and my behaviour hurt everyone's feelings", she said.

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