Hong Kong to ‘Use All Means’ Against Google Over National Anthem

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong has strongly criticized Alphabet Inc.’s Google for failing to ensure the city’s correct national anthem features prominently on its search page.

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Typing in Hong Kong national anthem into the search box brings up articles and videos about Glory to Hong Kong, the unofficial anthem of the mass protests that rocked the financial hub in 2019, instead of China’s March of the Volunteers.

“We actually asked Google to pin the correct national anthem on top of its page, but it refused,” the city’s security chief Chris Tang told reporters on Monday. “This is unbelievable, and Hong Kong people will not accept it.”

Google’s apparent refusal to change the results comes after a number of incidents at international sporting events where Glory to Hong Kong was played by mistake. Last month, organizers at a rugby tournament in South Korea broadcast the protest song before the final between Hong Kong and the local side, prompting a backlash from Hong Kong government officials. A similar incident happened at a powerlifting event in Dubai this month.

Asia Rugby attributed the mistake at the Rugby Sevens final to a junior staff member downloading the wrong song from the internet, saying it “deeply regrets” the incident.

Tang said Google’s response to the government was that its search results depend on algorithms. Google was not immediately available to respond to a request for comment.

“The Hong Kong government will definitely use all means to correct this situation,” Tang said.

Sensitivity toward the national anthem has grown in the wake of the protests, which also saw football fans booing the song during games. Hong Kong passed a law in June 2020 that imposed a prison sentence of up to three years for people convicted of insulting or denigrating the anthem. In November, Hong Kong courts convicted the first person under the law and sentenced them to three months in prison.

While the city has its own currency, legal system and flag, it has never had its own national anthem. Under colonial rule, Hong Kong used the British national anthem. Since the handover in 1997, it has adopted the March of the Volunteers, which was written during China’s war against Japan.

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