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Internet Celebrity Imprisoned for Short, Goofy Rendition of China's National Anthem

18 October 2018

As well as being detained for five days, Yang also had her account suspended by the Huya app, losing some 44 million followers in the process.

In a statement posted over the weekend on the microblogging platform Weibo, the police in the Jing'an district of Shanghai described Yang's behavior as "an insult to the dignity of the national anthem which repelled internet users".

To help regulate the internet and scrub it clean of "vulgar" material, China passed a separate cybersecurity internet law that went into effect past year, which severely restricts online content.

China enacted and amended the China's National Anthem Law last year, which allows for imprisonment for up to three years for "deliberately distorting the lyrics or music of the national anthem of the People's Republic of China, singing the national anthem in a distorted or derogatory fashion, or insulting the national anthem in other ways".

Chinese officials deemed the move "disrespectful" and detained her for five days, according to Reuters.

The popularity of live streaming in China has soared in recent years, creating a great number of web celebrities, many of them young women who share snippets of their day-to-day lives on camera.

She then greeted her audience with: "Hello, good evening comrades".

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"The national anthem is an embodiment and symbol of our country, and all citizens and organizations should respect and defend the honor of the anthem", Shanghai police said in a social media announcement.

By contrast, conduct surrounding the national anthem has been a subject of heated debate in Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese city with broad protections for freedom of speech.

Ms Yang, who is also known as Li Ge, apologised last week in a Weibo post, vowing to stop live streaming, to conduct "self-rectification" and "seriously watch patriotic publicity films". It's not clear if she published the statement while still in detention.

On October 7, clad in a fuzzy antler headband, Yang waved her hands around as she sang the national anthem for about 10 seconds. "The anthem is sacred and my behaviour hurt everyone's feelings", she said. "I will deeply reflect, and fully accept ideological, political and patriotic education, and study hard on the National Anthem law and relevant regulations", she said.

The song was broadcast on a livesteaming website called Huya, which was listed on the New York Stock Exchange earlier this year.

Chinese video-streaming sites Huya and TikTok also deleted all of Yang's videos and blocked her from using their platforms again. She had 44 million fans on the platform.

Internet Celebrity Imprisoned for Short, Goofy Rendition of China's National Anthem