China detains internet star for ‘disrespecting’ national anthem in 10-second segment

Chinese social media star Yang Kaili 20 during her 7 Oct broadcast singing the national anthem a move authorities found disrespectful to the country and the song

"The national anthem is solemn and sacred ..."

She then sang the opening words to the national anthem, the March of the Volunteers, while waving her arms in the air like a conductor.

Her star has fallen fast, however in the wake of her offence, with video streaming sites blocking and deleting her previous videos, despite multiple online apologies to her millions of fans.

Some internet users expressed anger at her apparent levity while the police statement described her behaviour as "an insult to the dignity of the national anthem which repelled internet users".

In September a year ago, the National People's Congress passed a law against mocking the national anthem, with a punishment of up to 15 days in jail.

Ms Yang's detention comes as moves are being made to implement legislation in Hong Kong and Macau to prevent disrespect towards the national anthem and Chinese flag following incidents at soccer matches where fans booed the anthem ahead of global fixtures. The NPC changed the criminal law in November to allow those who disrespected the anthem to be jailed for up to three years.

"What I did was hurt your feelings", she continued, adding that she would "perform self-rectification, draw lessons from the bitter experience, deeply reflect and fully accept education on ideological politics and patriotism".

But it was enough to have violated China's new national anthem law that prohibits playing or singing the "March of the Volunteers" in a "distorted or disrespectful way in public," police said.

Shanghai police said Ms Yang "was disrespectful to the dignity of the national anthem and invited disgust among netizens".

All of Ms Yang's videos on TikTok, another popular streaming app where she rose to fame and gained 44 million followers, were also deleted.

"This is shameful. She is insulting the anthem and breaking the law", another added.

The decision to jail Ms Yang has drawn both praise and criticism from users on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform.

The BBC reported that Yang said, "I sincerely apologize for the fact that I did not sing the anthem seriously", and vowed that she would "stop all live broadcasting work".

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.

China is the world's biggest market for live streaming and is expected to generate revenues of US$4.4 billion (S$6.05 billion) this year, according to a Deloitte report.

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