ne of China’s most popular internet stars has been put behind bars and has seen her blossoming career ruined following a “disrespectful” rendition of China’s national anthem.
Two weeks ago, Yang Kaili, a 21-year-old live-streamer also known as “Li Ge” seemed to be poised for fame and fortune. In just over a year, the singer had managed to amass more than 50 million followers across different Chinese social media platforms and live-streaming sites, reportedly signing a 50 million yuan ($7.2 million) contract with one site.
However, that all changed on the evening of October 7th when Yang gave a brief, light-hearted rendition of the “March of the Volunteers,” smiling and waving her arms like a conductor while singing the words “Arise, ye who refuse to be slaves!” and greeting her viewers with a cheery “Hello and good evening, comrades!”
Yang’s playful version of China’s national anthem caught the attention of some netizens who reported her to the police. Soon, police in Shanghai’s Jing’an district had arrested Yang, declaring that she had “insulted the dignity of the national anthem” and warning that live streaming sites were not above the law.
The law that Yang had violated was one that China adopted last October which made it illegal to play or sing the national anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way. Those who insult the anthem can be detained for 15 days without trial. In more serious cases, offenders can be sentenced to up to three years in prison.
In Yang’s case, she was given five days of administrative detention.
Yang has since published two apologies onto her Weibo account, where she has more than 1 million followers. In her second apology, she wrote that she was deeply sorry for hurting everyone’s feelings with her “stupid” behavior, apologizing to her homeland, her fans, net users, and her host platforms.
The young woman said that she would immediately stop her live-broadcasting work and instead focus her attention on watching political propaganda films. “I will carry out self-rectification, deeply reflect upon and fully accept ideological, political, and patriotic education, and diligently study the National Anthem Law of China and relevant regulations,” she promised.
Of course, it’s not like Yang actually has the option of going back into live-casting at the moment. Huya, the streaming platform where she gave her national anthem performance, has suspended her account, causing her to lose more than 2 million followers. Meanwhile, TikTok, another popular Chinese live-streaming site has also deleted all of her videos. She had 44 million fans on the platform.