Glory to Hong Kong starts to disappear from online platforms

Territory’s government took court action this month to ban the song, arguing that it breaches the national security law.

Hong Kong protesters holding their hands up and singing Glory to Hong Kong during the 2019 rallies.
Glory to Hong Kong was the anthem of the 2019 protests and banned in schools the following year [File: Thomas Peter/Reuters]

Glory to Hong Kong, the unofficial anthem of the city’s 2019 democracy protests, has disappeared from Spotify as the Chinese territory’s government tries to remove the song from the internet.

Last week, Hong Kong’s secretary for justice filed a court injunction against performing, broadcasting or sharing the song in any format, saying it is in breach of the city’s broadly worded national security legislation.

The song’s lyrics call for a fight for “freedom” to “liberate our Hong Kong”, a struggle referred to as the “revolution of our times”, although the lyrics do not explicitly refer to either the local government or Beijing.

The song was played throughout the 2019 protests, which roiled the city for months as they spiralled from a single-issue protest to a much larger anti-government movement before COVID-19 brought the movement to an end.

It has also been played inadvertently at a number of major sporting fixtures, angering authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing.

Since the court injunction was filed on June 5, multiple versions of Glory to Hong Kong, including those in the original Cantonese, have stopped working on streaming services such as Apple Music and on Facebook and Instagram reels.

Spotify on Thursday said the song had been removed by its distributor.

A Mandarin language version by the Taiwan rock band The Chairman is still available on iTunes in Taiwan and the local streaming service KKBox, but most versions have also been removed on the two platforms.

Only YouTube appears to have the original, instrumental and English versions although it is unclear how much longer they will remain on the platform.

Glory to Hong Kong was banned in Hong Kong schools in 2020, but the song has remained a sore spot since the democracy protests ended.

The government was outraged when the song was mistakenly used as the city’s anthem in lieu of China’s March of the Volunteers at the 2022 Asia Rugby Sevens in South Korea and several other sporting events in Dubai and Croatia over the past two years.

Secretary for Security Chris Tang promised in 2022 to address the song’s high Google search results, which alongside God Save the King, Hong Kong’s former colonial anthem, are indexed higher than March of the Volunteers.

At the time, Tang said the search results “hurt the feelings of the Hong Kong people”, according to state broadcaster RTHK, and he promised to rectify the issue with Google.

A search for Glory to Hong Kong continues to show the lyrics, links to KKBox, a Wikipedia entry for the song and a number of video links.

A search for “Hong Kong anthem” shows the top entry as a Wikipedia entry on March of the Volunteers, followed by stories about Glory to Hong Kong.

Source: Al Jazeera