Asia Pacific / Crime & Legal

Chinese livestreamer held for 'insulting' national anthem

AFP-JIJI

A popular Chinese livestreamer has been sentenced to five days in detention for “insulting” China’s national anthem by waving her arms and mimicking a conductor as she sung the song during a broadcast to millions of her followers.

The woman, Yang Kaili, was detained by authorities in Shanghai Saturday for violating a national anthem law that was enacted last year.

In a broadcast on the Huya livestream website on Oct. 7, Yang, 21, appeared wearing an antler-shaped headband and hummed a ceremonial song in combination with some of the words of “The March of the Volunteers,” while waving her arms and mimicking a conductor.

Huya subsequently blocked Yang’s live-stream channel, froze her account and removed her videos.

Yang’s husky voice became popular on another livestream platform, TikTok, and in August she was invited to perform by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

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

“I will stop all livestream work, perform self-rectification, draw lessons from the bitter experience, deeply reflect and fully accept education on ideological politics and patriotism.”

In September last year, the National People’s Congress passed a law against mocking the national anthem, with a punishment of up to 15 days in jail. The NPC changed the criminal law in November to allow those who disrespected the anthem to be jailed for up to three years.

President Xi Jinping, considered Communist China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, has stepped up the promotion of patriotism in the world’s most populous country.