Hong Kong calls for Google bury protest track in on-line anthem search outcomes



HONG KONG — U.S. tech large Google is below rising stress by the Hong Kong authorities — and, by affiliation, China — to bury in its search outcomes a politically delicate pro-democracy track that has been mistaken for the nationwide anthem.

The transfer exhibits the rising tensions between multinational tech giants and Chinese authorities as Beijing seeks to cover any lingering dissent from the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong that started in 2019.

The Hong Kong authorities’s renewed concern over the track got here after a minimum of two situations over the previous few months the place it was mistakenly used to symbolize Hong Kong athletes at sports activities matches.

The likelihood revival of a Hong Kong protest track has angered authorities

The look of the track at sports activities occasions overseas triggered offended reactions from Hong Kong authorities. On Monday, Chris Tang, the safety minister, stated the federal government will “make every effort to interdict such actions.”

He added on Wednesday in a news convention that “there is only one national anthem. Other wrong things will always remain wrong no matter how much you talk about it.”

On Tuesday, Hong Kong chief John Lee additionally stated that the federal government will proceed to correspond and comply with up with Google, and that it’s “possible to rearrange the search results via advertisements and remove items” which have violated the regulation.

“Setting aside its legal status, the national anthem represents the dignity and feelings of a country and its people,” Lee stated. “It’s a moral issue. I believe any responsible institution must take it seriously.”

Beijing itself additionally weighed into the controversy and it was addressed on the day by day Foreign Ministry briefing on Wednesday.

Spokesman Wang Wenbin stated that Beijing helps the Hong Kong authorities in “firmly safeguarding the dignity of the national anthem” and that the “internet companies are obliged to convey the correct information to the public, rather than allow false information to spread.”

Since Hong Kong’s handover from British rule to Beijing in 1997, Hong Kong’s official anthem has been the identical as China’s — “March of the Volunteers.”

During the 2019 protests, nonetheless, demonstrators popularized the pro-democracy track, “Glory to Hong Kong,” which broadly got here to be seen because the “anthem” of the motion — apparently complicated Google’s search algorithms.

Millions marched in peaceable protests in opposition to an extradition invoice that 12 months, however elevated violence amid a heavy-handed police response, and the protesters’ shifting objectives, noticed Beijing in 2020 impose a nationwide safety regulation that has been used to crack down on freedoms of protest, speech and tutorial analysis.

A Google spokeswoman declined to remark however stated its search outcomes are decided by its algorithms. The firm says it solely removes content material that violates its insurance policies or are deemed unlawful in numerous jurisdictions.

The high outcomes of an English search of “Hong Kong national anthem” on Google is the Wikipedia web page for “Glory to Hong Kong” with textual content saying that some have dubbed it the “national anthem of Hong Kong.” The subsequent result’s the Wikipedia entry for “March of the Volunteers,” and the video choices are clips of the pro-democracy track on YouTube.

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In November, a lawmaker staged a protest at Google’s Hong Kong workplace, delivering a letter at reception saying that as a giant company, Google has a “responsibility” to delete the “song about Hong Kong independence.”

Several different members of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing legislative council flagged the severity of the incident and demanded the federal government recurrently examine search outcomes and inform the service suppliers to take away “inaccurate information involving national sovereignty.”

The anger towards a global tech agency is out of character for Hong Kong, the place entry to data on-line stays largely free versus that within the mainland, and such openness is a part of its attraction for multinational corporations.

In Dubai two weeks in the past, the pro-democracy track was performed after which lower brief when the Hong Kong gold medal winner at a weightlifting competitors alerted organizers.

In November, an instrumental model of the track was performed in full at a global rugby match that includes the Hong Kong crew in Incheon, South Korea.

Hong Kong authorities instantly launched a police investigation and the chief secretary summoned the South Korea’s consul to inform him the federal government “strongly deplores and opposes the incident” and request an inquiry.

On Monday, the police arrested a 49-year-old man below a sedition regulation and accused him of sharing footage of the South Korea incident and expressing gratitude to Incheon for “recognizing the Hong Kong national anthem.”


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