HK Probes Wrong Anthem Incident for Security Law Violations

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong’s leader ordered police to investigate the playing of the wrong song at a rugby tournament in South Korea for possible national security violations.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Chief Executive John Lee said it was “unacceptable” that a song associated with the 2019 protests was played instead of the Chinese national anthem.

Organizers broadcast Glory to Hong Kong in Incheon stadium before the Asia Rugby Sevens final between Hong Kong and South Korea on Sunday. The incident was caused by a junior staff member downloading the wrong song from the internet, Asia Rugby said in a statement Monday.

Hong Kong’s Organized Crime and Triad Bureau is investigating the incident to see if the national anthem law, the national security law, or any other city legislation were violated, the police in a statement Tuesday morning.

“Hong Kong police will act in accordance with the law for any investigation,” said Lee Monday when addressing reporters.

Chief Secretary Eric Chan met with the South Korean consul general on Monday to ask authorities there to look into what happened. The government is also requesting Asia Rugby and the Hong Kong Rugby Union to investigate.

Hong Kong passed a national anthem law in June 2020 that imposed a prison sentence of up to three years for people convicted of insulting or denigrating the song. Last week, Hong Kong courts convicted the first person under the national anthem law and sentenced them to three months in prison.

The Chinese national anthem, called March of the Volunteers, was written during China’s war against Japan and adopted by the People’s Republic of China. It became a symbol of Beijing’s interference among Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters.

The incident in South Korea came on the heels of Hong Kong hosting the Sevens tournament as a key part of the city’s global reopening to the world. Lee, who led the crackdown against the demonstrators as the city’s security chief, and his successor in that role, Chris Tang, were among senior officials attending the event.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.