Hong Kong leader says Google has ‘moral obligation’ to remove protest song

Hong Kong leader John Lee has pushed back against Google’s refusal to remove a protest song from searches for China’s national anthem as the row over the pro-democracy “Glory to Hong Kong” widens.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong chief executive Mr Lee said the Alphabet Inc-owned platform had a “moral obligation” to highlight the correct national anthem in search results instead of the protest song.

His comments followed that Chinese leaders were furious after several major sporting events such as a rugby tournament in South Korea and a powerlifting event in Dubai played the pro-democracy protest song as the city’s anthem instead. of the Chinese anthem “March of the Volunteers”.

“If a company is responsible in any way, it has that moral obligation,” Mr Lee told a briefing.

“There are ways to do that, it’s a matter of whether a company is acting responsibly and respecting the importance of (a) national anthem in the global context.”

He said he would continue to press Google to make this change.

The comments came a day after the city’s security chief, Chris Tang, sharply criticized Google, saying it had refused to make changes to its search results and accused it of ‘double standards’. “.

“Google said it couldn’t grant our request because [the search results are determined by] algorithm and it can’t do anything with it,” Tang said on Monday.

“But it’s well known that anyone who wants their information seen by more people can spend money on ads to promote their posts.”

He said Google had agreed to similar requests from the EU’s highest court to remove data from online search results if users could prove it was inaccurate.

“Google has an explanation for the people of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong SAR will do everything in its power to correct the situation,” Tang said, referring to his official name, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China. People’s Republic of China.

He added: “Google’s claim that its hands are tied is incomprehensible and I’m sure Hong Kongers would find it unacceptable.”

The Hong Kong government directed its anger at Google after it discovered that the pro-democracy protest song “Glory to Hong Kong” was regularly displayed at the top of the page when someone searched for the Hong Kong anthem.

The government said it asked the company to prevent misleading search results for the keywords “Hong Kong” and “national anthem”.

The song “Glory to Hong Kong” whose lyrics refer to “tears on our land” and call for “democracy and freedom” became popular during months of anti-government protests in 2019. The song is considered banned after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law. and the authorities have cracked down on those who use it.

The Hong Kong government issued a strong rebuke and demanded an investigation after the Asia Rugby Sevens tournament match in Incheon, South Korea played the instrumental version of “Glory to Hong Kong” at the stadium in November.

Earlier this month, the Asian Classic Powerlifting Championship in Dubai ended up making a similar gaffe, prompting the participating Hong Kong athlete to make a ‘T’ hand gesture to stop the song.

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