“Glory to Hong Kong,” enacted during the 2019 mass protests, is all but banned in Chinese territory.
The Hong Kong government has condemned organizers of a rugby tournament in South Korea after a democracy protest song was played instead of the Chinese national anthem before the territory’s team played a game.
A video shared on social media showed the players looking perplexed as the song Glory to Hong Kong was played in place of the Chinese national anthem ahead of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series final.
The Hong Kong government “deplores and strongly opposes the playing of a song closely associated with violent protests and the ‘independence’ movement as the national anthem of the People’s Republic of China,” it said in a statement.
“The national anthem is a symbol of our country. The organizer of the tournament has a duty to ensure that the national anthem receives the respect it deserves,” said a government spokesman.
Written by an anonymous composer, Glory to Hong Kong became an anthem for the pro-democracy movement during the 2019 protests, drawing large crowds but becoming increasingly violent as the months went by.
The organizers of the tournament in Incheon, South Korea, apologized and played the Chinese anthem after the game, which was won by the Hong Kong team.
Hong Kong authorities said they had ordered the city’s rugby union to conduct an investigation and convey their “strong objection” to tournament organizer Asia Rugby.
In a separate statement, the Hong Kong Rugby Union expressed its “extreme dissatisfaction” with what had happened.
The organization’s preliminary investigation revealed that the Chinese anthem had been given to the organizers by the team’s coach and the protest song had been played by mistake.
“While we accept that this was a case of human error, it was still unacceptable,” the HKRU said.
The Chinese national anthem March of the Volunteers has been played at international events Hong Kong has attended since the British returned the territory to China in 1997.
Hong Kong playing fame on territory is now all but illegal after Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong that rights groups say has “decimated” dissent. It is also considered unlawful under Hong Kong’s Sedition Law, according to the South China Morning Post.
In September, a harmonica player was arrested for playing the tune to a crowd in honor of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.