HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s leader said Tuesday he will push Google to display China’s national anthem as the top result in searches for the city’s anthem instead of a protest song.
The comments by John Lee, Hong Kong’s chief executive, followed several big sporting events — including a rugby tournament in South Korea and powerlifting event in Dubai — where the pro-democracy protest song “Glory to Hong Kong” was played as the city’s anthem instead of the Chinese national anthem, “March of the Volunteers.”
“There are ways to do it, it’s a matter of whether a company acts responsibly and respect the importance of (a) national anthem in the global context,” Lee said in a briefing. He said he would continue to press Google to make that change.
Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Lee’s comments come a day after the city’s security chief Chris Tang said a request for Google to replace the “Glory to Hong Kong” protest anthem with China’s national anthem as the top search result had been refused.
According to Tang, Google had said that such results were generated by an algorithm and did not involve human input.
“Glory to Hong Kong” became popular during months of anti-government protests in 2019. It is widely considered as banned now after a national security law was enacted, cracking down on political dissent.
Authorities have said that the phrase “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” — a popular protest slogan that is part of the song’s lyrics — was considered separatist and subversive under the national security law.
Hong Kong is a former British colony and semi-autonomous region of China, with its own customs territory and legal system. Chinese leaders pledged to respect its civil liberties and way of life for at least a half-century after the city was handed over to Beijing’s control in 1997. But the communist-ruled mainland has expanded its influence over the territory in the past several years, jailing pro-democracy activists and taking a harsh stance toward protests.