Hong Kong police arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of insulting the Chinese national anthem after he was caught on video in a shopping mall booing when the song played during an Olympics medal ceremony.
The man, whose name was not released, also waved a British colonial Hong Kong flag when he gathered with others at a Hong Kong mall to watch a local star, foil fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long, receive his gold medal, the first won by an athlete from the city in 25 years, The Guardian reported.
Hong Kong’s flag was raised during the ceremony, but China’s anthem was played because the city is under Chinese rule.
In videos seen online, a crowd of about 100 watching the live broadcast on a widescreen TV shouted “We are Hong Kong!” and clapped to drown out the song, Reuters reported.
Disrespecting China’s national anthem was criminalized under a law enacted in Hong Kong June 2020.
“The aim is to stir up the hostility of those on the scene and to politicize the sport,” said Senior Superintendent Eileen Chung told the Wall Street Journal. She said the arrest was the first of its kind.
Chung said the man had 10 colonial Hong Kong flags of various sizes in his possession.
Anyone convicted of publicly and intentionally insulting the Chinese national anthem could be fined more than $6,000 and sentenced to three years in prison, Chung said.
Police will continue the probe to see if anyone at the scene had violated the national security law that Beijing imposed last year amid massive anti-government protests. The first person convicted under that law, Tong Ying-kit, 24, was found guilty Tuesday of secessionism and terrorism. He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.