Hong Kong Bans Popular Protest Song, Citing it Has Been Used as a “Weapon”

Hong Kong’s government will now be able to ban the famous protest song after an appeals court overturned a ruling last year that permitted its use.

On Wednesday, judges said that the song had been used as a “weapon,” making it dangerous for authorities if played in public settings. The verdict raises growing concerns about diminishing freedom in Hong Kong in recent years.

The judges ruled that the song can still be played for “academic” or “news” purposes.

Sung in Cantonese, Hong Kong’s native dialect, the song became an unofficial anthem of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests in 2019 and includes lyrics such as “Liberate Hong Kong.” It has been banned in schools since 2020.

Hong Kong is part of China but has had some autonomy since the British handover in 1997. In 2019, a proposed extradition law that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China prompted protests.

The bill was ultimately withdrawn but Hong Kong authorities have jailed hundreds of opposition party members and cracked down on media outlets since. In 2020, Hong Kong also passed a so-called “National Security Law” that criminalized any public speech calling for Hong Kong’s succession from China.

In March, Hong Kong’s parliament unanimously passed an electoral reform that critics say will lead to a further erosion of democracy.