Police in Hong Kong are not big on democracy.
Following China’s takeover of the island city-state, authorities have become increasingly authoritarian in their efforts to crack down on dissent within the populace, a large percentage of whom refuse to endorse the Chinese Communist Party.
Over the weekend, police in Hong Kong have arrested a man for allegedly booing China’s national anthem at a public broadcast of the Olympics.
Identified as a 40-year-old man, the thought-criminal was one of many spectators who gathered at a shopping mall in Hong Kong to watch a live showing of the games last Monday, where some booed the Chinese anthem or chanted “We are Hong Kong” during the city’s first Olympic gold medal win in 25 years — beating Egypt in men’s fencing.
Police say they received complaints that some people booed the award ceremony when China’s national anthem was being played. In a statement posted online, Hong Kong police say that the man they arrested held a Hong Kong British colonial flag and chanted slogans with others present at the showing, the Guardian reported.
Police said his alleged aim was to “incite hatred and politicize sports,” and that his conduct, taken as a whole, may have insulted the national anthem. The man identified himself as a journalist, police added.
“The police have launched an investigation into the incident and will collect relevant evidence,” police earlier told Reuters.
The man’s arrest comes days after Hong Kong sentenced a man who participated in pro-democracy protests to nine years in prison, per the Daily Wire. The protester’s sentence is the first such sentencing under the state’s newly imposed Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL), which was enacted last June. Communist Party supporters of the law claim that it does not infringe upon freedom of speech; however, the reality is that the law adds penalties for purported acts of “secession” and “subversion,” effectively terminating any form of free speech previously enjoyed by residents of the city.
In July, Hong Kong police arrested five people who published pro-democracy books written for children.
The first book, titled Guardians of Sheep Village explains the 2019 pro-democracy protests that swept through Hong Kong.
Janitors of Sheep Village, the second book, sees cleaners in the village go on strike to force out wolves who leave litter everywhere. The final book in the trilogy — The 12 Braves of Sheep Village — is about a group of sheep who flee their village by boat because of the wolves.
As Hong Kong continues to crack down on civil dissent, the Biden administration issued an advisory warning for American citizens travelling abroad to notify them that the NSL places them at risk of arrest. Several foreigners, including one American, have already been arrested under the law.
As noted in the Department of State’s 2021 Hong Kong Policy Act Report, China's imposition of the NSL on Hong Kong in June 2020 led to major structural changes that significantly reduced Hong Kong’s autonomy. As a result, business and rule of law risks that were formerly limited to mainland China are now increasingly a concern in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong authorities have arrested foreign nationals under the NSL, including one U.S. citizen. Those arrested may have travel documents confiscated and may be prevented from departing Hong Kong. Additionally, the Legislative Council passed an amendment to immigration law on April 28, effective August 1, which could potentially allow Hong Kong authorities to place exit bans on individuals seeking to depart the country, including non-residents.