The Hong Kong police has arrested a 40-year-old man for booing the Chinese national anthem at a shopping mall during a live broadcast of the Olympics.

On July 30 Chong Lai-yee (鍾麗詒), senior superintendent at the Hong Kong police’s Kowloon East regional headquarters, stated that a 40-year-old man was arrested on charges of “insulting the national anthem” (侮辱國歌), local media report.

The arrest was made one day after the Hong Kong police launched a probe into an incident that occurred on July 26, when a crowd gathered at the APM shopping mall in Kwun Tong District to watch a live broadcast of the Olympic Games and booed the Chinese national anthem.

After Hong Kong fencer Cheung Ka-leung (張家朗) won a gold medal, the Chinese national anthem was played at the medal awarding ceremony. Footage that circulated online shows the crowd booing the Chinese national anthem. Some chanted “We are Hong Kong”. The police opened an investigation into the incident and examined CCTV footage.

The 40-year-old suspect was accused of insulting the national anthem, of waving a British colonial flag and of inciting “hatred” among the crowd. The police further said that he is a journalist.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been cracking down on Hong Kong’s freedoms and civil liberties since taking over the former British colony in 1997. In June 2020, after months of protests sparked by an unpopular extradition bill proposal, the CCP-controlled rubber-stamp legislature in Beijing passed the National Security Law (NSL), which criminalizes acts of “secession, subversion, organisation and perpetration of terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country.”

Amnesty International called the law “dangerously vague and broad” because “virtually anything could be deemed a threat to ‘national security’”.

Since its introduction the law has been applied to persecute pro-democracy politicians and activists, shut down Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy media company, and prohibit any form of dissent deemed a “threat” by the authorities. On June 21 a man was arrested for hanging a banner with the slogan “Free Hong Kong, Revolution Now” (光復香港 時代革命) outside the window of his apartment.

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