This is not a coincidence. One day before Hong Kong lifted the face-mask mandate, the last pandemic prevention measure, to signify the full return to normalcy, the anti-China forces in the international sports field took action to “disturb” the special administrative region.
This time, they have used the same tactic of the past eight months — playing the 2019 anti-extradition song in place of China’s national anthem, March of the Volunteers, whenever the Hong Kong team takes part in any international sports tournament.
The national-anthem blunder occurred again on Tuesday after the SAR team outmatched Iran 11-1 in Group B at the Ice Hockey World Championship in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The wrong tune was played for a few seconds before some Hong Kong team representatives made a “T” sign to signal there was a problem. The organizer then stopped the ceremony and played the correct national anthem afterward.
It is the fifth mistake of the same nature in the past eight months involving the SAR team participating in international sports tournaments despite the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China — the SAR’s sports self-regulatory body — issuing guidelines in November to instruct the SAR’s 82 sports groups for athletes and coaches how they should deal with similar situations when playing overseas.
Peace-loving Hong Kong residents are particularly annoyed because all the national anthem mix-ups have been linked with Glory to Hong Kong, a song closely associated to the 2019 color revolution incited by the anti-China forces and carried out by their local proxies. The entire city was engulfed in a series of violent attacks against police stations, public facilities, shops and civilians who just had different political views from the mob’s.
According to the SF&OC’s guidelines, its staff must give an official version of the national anthem to the organizer of the sport event in advance and remind the organizer to use the official version and not any version from the internet. In addition, Hong Kong team officials and players should use their hands to display a “T” sign to halt an event when mistakes occur during the playing of the Chinese national anthem or the raising of the HKSAR flag. They can also boycott the game if necessary.
Regretfully and infuriatingly, the mix-ups keep on occurring even after the implementation of the guidelines. The excuses given by all organizers involved are similar — “careless”, “unintentional” and “innocent” mistakes made by junior staff who did not know the political situation in Hong Kong, and they uploaded the wrong version from the internet for the sake of convenience but just failed to “delete” the wrong tune in time prior to the ceremony. Nevertheless, they all acknowledged receipt of the official version of the Chinese national anthem, well before the event, from the SF&OC.
In view of the prompt actions taken by Hong Kong team members to halt the wrong tune after it was played shortly in recent incidents, including the latest one in Sarajevo, we could say the SF&OC’s guidelines are, to a certain extent, effective in curtailing these sneaking acts of repeated disrespect for our national anthem. However, we can certainly do more to eradicate the issue
Such contradictory explanations and clarifications have exposed the hypocrisy and hidden agenda of some China-bashers within the international and local sports circle — furtively and stealthily defaming and insulting Hong Kong, an important bridge linking the Chinese mainland with the rest of the world — so that they can keep up the momentum on checking the rise of China.
They dare not openly promote the anti-extradition song in defiance of the National Security Law for Hong Kong (NSL), implemented in June 2020 to restore the rule of law and order of the city, which was gravely damaged during the 2019 political turbulence.
The powerful NSL has provided the SAR a safe and stable environment to excel after a three-year-long economic slump triggered by the social unrest and COVID-19 pandemic. This is the major reason why the anti-China forces keep slandering the NSL by claiming falsely that it is restricting the freedom of Hong Kong people. However, they have chosen not to mention the hard fact that the NSL only aims to prevent, curb and sanction an extremely small minority of criminals who threaten national security, the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, and the implementation of “one country, two systems”.
In view of the prompt actions taken by Hong Kong team members to halt the wrong tune after it was played shortly in recent incidents, including the latest one in Sarajevo, we could say the SF&OC’s guidelines are, to a certain extent, effective in curtailing these sneaking acts of repeated disrespect for our national anthem. However, we can certainly do more to eradicate the issue.
The SAR government should speed up the work of enacting laws to regulate false information on the internet so that the issue can be dealt with more effectively. It will also give Legislative Council members stronger teeth to summon the arrogant and uncooperative Google management by means of the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance, demanding the internet giant explain why it cannot ensure the correct national anthem for Hong Kong pops up when users search with relevant keywords.
The Innovation, Technology and Industry Bureau of the SAR government discussed the matter with Google last November, but Google later explained that the search results were based on algorithms and it would not manually manipulate web listings.
On the other hand, the SF&OC should act tougher to resolve the issue as it is not convincing to tell the people of Hong Kong in the digital era that the distance between the audio room and the pitch is too far for its official to monitor the procedures of playing the national anthem. The SF&OC does not lack the money to hire extra staff and buy advanced electronic communication equipment to specifically carry out the important task.
The SF&OC should also consider boycotting or making official complaints to the International Olympic Committee if any of those event organizers show a hostile or very unfriendly attitude in allowing its staff to monitor the national anthem playing procedure.
A country’s national anthem is a national symbol and it represents our dignity. If we do not take determined action to ensure these blunders are not repeated, it will loosen our national unity gradually. Hong Kong has paid a high price for this in 2019, and we certainly do not want this sad history to happen again in the future.
The author, a Hong Kong-based freelance writer, is an adviser to the Hong Kong Association of Media Veterans.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.