Hong Kong’s Eastern Magistrates’ Courts sentenced photographer Cheng Wing-chun to three months prison on Thursday for violating the National Anthem Ordinance. Cheng, who was found guilty on July 5, is the first person tried under the ordinance.
Cheng was convicted because he purportedly insulted the Chinese national anthem by replacing the anthem with “Glory to Hong Kong,” a song associated with Hong Kong’s 2019 anti-government protests, in a video that featured Hong Kong fencer Edgar Cheung receiving an Olympic gold medal in 2021.
In sentencing Cheng, Magistrate Wat Lai Man, Minnie said that Cheng had “incited people in the comments section to insult the dignity of the national anthem” and did not exhibit any remorse. She noted that Cheng’s video had more than 90,000 views and held that the court should deter imitators.
Magistrate Wat stated that:
The defendant’s act not only disrespected the winning athlete, but also fuelled conflicts between people who have different views about the national anthem, and, as a matter of fact, galvanised others into making remarks that similarly undermined the national anthem’s dignity.
In addition, Wat outlined how protecting the national anthem from desecration safeguards national interests, since the national anthem symbolizes dignity, reunification and territorial integrity.
Previously on June 5, Hong Kong’s Department of Justice applied to the High Court for an injunction against “Glory to Hong Kong,” outlining that broadcasting the song is a potential breach of certain laws in Hong Kong—such as the National Security Law. The government of Hong Kong also expressed that the song, which had been mistaken as Hong Kong’s national anthem, insults the Chinese national anthem.