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Hong Kong slams Google in anthem row

A senior security official says the company failed to prioritize the correct information about the city’s national song

Google has refused to ensure that the Chinese national anthem rather than a protest song comes up as the top search result when people type in the words ‘Hong Kong’ and ‘national anthem’, Chris Tang, the city’s top security official, said on Monday. He accused the company of “double standards” and vowed to “do everything we can to correct the situation.”

Hong Kong became China’s self-governing city after British rule ended there in 1997. Since then, the city has been using the Chinese anthem ‘March of the Volunteers’ as its own.

However, ‘Glory to Hong Kong’, a song written in support of the large-scale anti-Beijing protests that rocked the city in 2019-20, is also prominently featured in Google’s search results. In 2020, ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ was banned under China’s national security law. State-run media outlets argued that it was associated with riots and social unrest that occurred during the protests.


The Hong Kong government formally asked Google last month to prioritize China’s anthem over the protest song. “We were told earlier by Google that all search results were generated by an algorithm with no human input,” Tang said, adding that the company’s response “has hurt the feelings of Hong Kong people.”

It has been widely known that anyone who wants their information to be seen by more people could spend money on adverts to get their posts promoted. The claim by Google that its hands are tied is incomprehensible.

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© AFP / Leon Nael
Google told to remove ‘inaccurate’ information

Tang accused the Silicon Valley-based tech giant of “double standards.” He pointed to the EU’s top court, which ruled last week that Google must remove information if a concerned party proves that it is inaccurate.


Google has not commented on Tang’s remarks. The company said about the EU’s court ruling at the time that it has “worked hard” to implement the bloc’s policies and sought “to strike a sensible balance between people’s rights of access to information and privacy.”

The protest song was accidentally played instead of the Chinese anthem before a rugby game in South Korea last month, when the Hong Kong team faced the South Korean team. On-screen graphics read ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ as the city’s anthem before rugby matches in the UAE and Australia in recent months. The organizers apologized for the mistakes following complaints from Hong Kong officials.

December 13, 2022 at 07:26PM


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