The Hong Kong Department of Justice applied to the High Court on Monday for an injunction to prohibit any activity in relation to the song “Glory to Hong Kong” with unlawful intent. The Hong Kong government asserts that the song contains secessionist lyrics and is an insult to the Chinese national anthem, since “Glory to Hong Kong” is often mistaken for Hong Kong’s national anthem. The injunction also seeks to remove 32 related YouTube videos.
The government says broadcasting or disseminating the song’s melody or lyrics with seditious intent can potentially breach multiple laws in Hong Kong, including sedition under the 2020 National Security Law and the Crimes Ordinance. The government also says that the use of the song can also violate the National Anthem Ordinance if it is portrayed as Hong Kong’s national anthem.
Prosecutors have, in multiple cases, used the song as evidence of sedition and breaching the National Security Law. In these cases, however, the defendants were not convicted based only on the evidence of any activities linked to the song. A case of insulting the national anthem, charging based only on publishing the song, is pending judgment on July 5 this year. The defendant was accused of publishing a video of a Hong Kong Olympic winner attending the awards ceremony with the song playing in the background.
The breadth of the proposed injunction, if any, is also unclear. Article 38 of the Hong Kong National Security Law provides that the law equally applies to non-residents outside Hong Kong. Any activities in relation to the song may be considered an incitement of secession, as provided under Article 21 of the National Security Law.
Hong Kong protesters wrote the song in 2019 during the anti-extradition law amendment bill movement. The song was recently mistaken for the national anthem of Hong Kong and played in several international events, such as the 2022 Asia Rugby Seven Series and the 2023 Ice Hockey World Championship.