- Yang Kaili, a 21-year-old video star, live-streamed herself giving an exaggerated rendition of the Chinese national anthem, waving her arms around like a conductor.
- Chinese officials deemed the move “disrespectful” and detained her for five days, according to Reuters.
- Yang was detained under China’s National Anthem Law, which mandates up to 15 days in jail for people who “play or sing the national anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way.”
- Yang has also been banned from live-streaming in the future. She has likely lost a lot of money from that.
A Chinese video star was detained for five days and banned from all video platforms for live-streaming herself singing her country’s national anthem while flailing her arms around, which officials deemed “disrespectful.”
Yang Kaili, 21, posted a video of herself humming military music and singing the first line of the Chinese national anthem – the “March of the Volunteers” – on October 7, according to Inkstone News, a subsidiary of the South China Morning Post.
While singing the anthem Yang can be seen waving her arms around, as if she were conducting an orchestra. Then she says: “Hello, good evening, comrades,” and laughs.
Chinese officials were not impressed. Shortly after Yang’s published her video, police in Shanghai detained her for five days for being “disrespectful to the national anthem,” Reuters reported. It’s not clear when Yang was taken into and released from detention.
Although Huya, the site Yang used to live-stream her singing, has removed the original video and banned Yang’s account, the video has been preserved elsewhere. Watch it here:
(For reference, the regular Chinese national anthem can be heard in this video by the country’s state-run CGTN news network.)
Yang, who also goes by the name Li Ge, was detained under China’s “National Anthem Law,” which was introduced last year to ensure nobody disrespected the anthem, the BBC reported, citing the Shanghai police department.
People found to “maliciously modify the lyrics, play or sing the national anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way” could be detained for up to 15 days and held criminally liable, the law said, according to the state-run Xinhua News agency.
The Shanghai police department said in a statement on Sunday, as cited by the BBC: “The national anthem is a symbol of the country, all citizens should respect and safeguard [its] dignity.”
“Live-streaming platforms are not above the law – the law and moral standards similarly apply there,” the force added.
Last Wednesday Yang posted a statement on microblogging site Weibo apologizing for her behaviour. It’s not clear if she published the statement while still in detention.
“I am ashamed and want to apologise again to everyone for my stupid and base mistake of singing the national anthem during my live broadcast,” Yang wrote.
“My behaviour deeply hurt everyone’s feelings: Sorry. Sorry to the motherland, sorry to my fans, sorry to everyone on the internet, and sorry to the platform.”
She added that she would stop all of her live-streaming work, conduct “self-rectification,” “fully accept ideological and patriotic education,” and “seriously watch” a series of patriotic films.
Chinese video-streaming sites Huya and TikTok also deleted all of Yang’s videos and blocked her from using their platforms again. She had about 50 million followers combined on those sites, Inkstone reported.
Yang has likely lost a lot of money from being unable to live-stream anymore. The video-streaming industry in China is lucrative, with some 609 million users around the country as of September, according to marketing news site The Drum.
Viewers can send virtual gifts to live-streamers, who can then convert the presents into cash, according to the BBC.
Yang’s detention and punishment shows that nobody is exempt from China’s rules and surveillance. Earlier this year the country’s most prominent actress, Fan Bingbing, disappeared for three months during a tax evasion scandal.
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