Chinese live-streaming star detained over 'disrespect' towards national anthem during broadcast

Ms Yang Kaili, 21, who has over a million followers on Weibo, issued two apologies, begging forgiveness for her "stupid mistake".
Ms Yang Kaili, 21, who has over a million followers on Weibo, issued two apologies, begging forgiveness for her "stupid mistake".PHOTO: WEIBO

BEIJING - A 21-year-old live-streaming star has been detained for five days for singing part of the Chinese national anthem in a "disrespectful" way while broadcasting.

Ms Yang Kaili, who has 44 million followers on a social media platform, "insulted" the national anthem while broadcasting on Oct 7, police in Shanghai's Jingan district said in a social media post on Saturday (Oct 13), reported the South China Morning Post.

The self-made celebrity was introducing an "online music festival" when she hummed the beginning of the Athletes March, a ceremonial tune. She then sang the opening words to the national anthem, the March of the Volunteers, while waving her arms in the air like a conductor.

That prompted some Internet users to express anger, while the police described the behaviour as an "insult to the dignity of the national anthem which repelled Internet users".

Ms Yang's detention comes as moves are being made to implement legislation in Hong Kong and Macau to prevent disrespect towards the national anthem and Chinese flag following incidents at soccer matches where fans booed the anthem ahead of international fixtures.

Ms Yang, who has over a million followers on Weibo, issued two apologies, begging forgiveness for her "stupid mistake".

"I sincerely apologise for singing the national anthem in an unserious manner while broadcasting. What I did has hurt your feelings. I'm sorry. Sorry to the motherland, to the fans, to web users, and to the platform," she wrote.

She also promised to cease broadcasting and said she would undertake "patriotic" education and activities.

Streaming site Huya immediately blocked Ms Yang after the incident and took all her videos offline. The site was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in May.

"The national anthem is solemn and sacred… Huya respects the anthem and firmly protects its dignity," the company said in a statement.

It added that Ms Yang's behaviour reflected her lack of awareness of the "law and social responsibility".

All of Ms Yang's videos on TikTok, another popular streaming app where she rose to fame and gained 44 million followers, were also deleted.

A few months ago, she was blocked by Kuaishou, a rival app to TikTok, for asking fans for 30,000 yuan (S$5,961.60) to add her on WeChat, China's most popular social media platform.

China is the world's biggest market for live streaming and is expected to generate revenues of US$4.4 billion (S$6.05 billion) this year, according to a Deloitte report.