October 17, 2017
With lots of attention focused on kneeling protests during the national anthem in the United States, some media has reported on a similar movement in Hong Kong. But while in the US it’s the athletes who protest, in Hong Kong it’s the fans.
Hong Kong sports fans have been turning their backs, booing, chanting and even raising their middle fingers during China’s national anthem being played. “[A] protest of Beijing’s growing influence in this semiautonomous city”, states New York Times. Most recently on last Tuesday, Hong Kong soccer fans booed before an Asian Cup qualifier against Malaysia started, while two weeks ago, they protested at another game against Laos.
After the street protests of the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong had ended three years ago “without the government ceding any ground on expanding residents’ say in local elections”, the New York Times reports “that [the] spirit of protest has been revived in the stadium jeers, which appear to have started two years ago.”
This month, a new law passed by the Chinese government went into effect, among other things prohibiting the disrespect of the anthem. Hong Kong has yet to enact its own version of the law. The city which returned to Chinese control in 1997 after being a British colony, enjoys significant autonomy and many citizens “desire to maintain a separate identity as Hongkongers”, writes Washington Post. In international sports competitions, Hong Kong also has its own teams competing.
Photo: Hong Kong fans’ protest during Chinese national anthem last week (Photo Credit: AP / washingtonpost.com)