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China detains internet star for 'disrespecting' national anthem in 10-second segment

Chinese social media star Yang Kaili was detained by authorities for five days after being accused of mocking the country's national anthem. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

A popular online star in China was ordered to spend five days in jail last week for violating the country's new law against "disrespecting" its national anthem.

The punishment was issued against 20-year-old Yang Kaili for beginning a segment by waving her arms as an orchestra conductor while singing a few words of the song for roughly 10 seconds during a livestream video.

What are the details?

On Oct. 7, Yang began a livestream video while playing the Chinese national anthem, "March of Volunteers" in the background. Once authorities got wind of the clip circulating to her millions of followers, the video was removed, Yang's account was banned, and the young woman was taken into custody.

Yang's punishment is the most high-profile arrest yet for violating a new national anthem law issued by China last year. Under the law, anyone caught singing the anthem in a "distorted or disrespectful way" can be jailed for up to 15 days, according to the BBC.

Shanghai police issued a statement regarding Yang's violation over the weekend.

"The national anthem is an embodiment and symbol of our country, and all citizens and organizations should respect and defend the honor of the anthem," Shanghai police said on social media, the Washington Post reported.

"Live-streaming webcast is not lawless territory and users should obey the law and uphold moral standards," the statement continued. "The police will resolutely crack down on such behaviors that challenge the legal bottom line or public order and good social morals, in order to purify the Internet's public sphere."

Specifically addressing Yang's behavior, the police said the livestream video star "was disrespectful to the dignity of the national anthem and invited disgust among netizens."

How did Yang respond?

The Post reported that Yang issued an apology for what she referred to as the "stupid mistake" of hurting "the motherland, the fans, and the platform."

"What I did was hurt your feelings," she continued, adding that she would "perform self-rectification, draw lessons from the bitter experience, deeply reflect and fully accept education on ideological politics and patriotism."

The BBC reported that Yang said, "I sincerely apologize for the fact that I did not sing the anthem seriously," and vowed that she would "stop all live broadcasting work."

Before switching social media platforms, Yang at one point had a following of over 44 million people.

Anything else?

According to the Post, the National Anthem Law was issued "after Hong Kong soccer fans booed and turned their backs at the national anthem when their squad played against China's national team" last year.

There are political facets in Hong Kong who are opposed to being under Chinese rule, causing China to recently ban one party due to its platform endorsing Hong Kong's independence.

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