Chinese social media star spends 5 days in jail for botching national anthem


Chinese internet celebrity Yang Kaili, who also goes by Li Ge, was held in Shanghai jail for five days after authorities said she disrespected the Chinese national anthem, the Washington Post reports.

Police said Yang was detained after she failed to correctly sing the first line of the Chinese national anthem, according to the Post. A video shows Yang wearing fuzzy moose ears and waving her arms, adding to the silliness of her performance published to over 2 million followers on the Huya app.

Yang, 21, is one of China’s most popular online celebrities with over 44 million followers on live-streaming app TikTok. Her controversial clip posted on Oct. 7 only lasts about 10 seconds, but it was enough to upset authorities who claimed that it violated a new law making it a criminal offense to disrespect the national anthem.

According to the law, anyone who distorts the anthem’s the lyrics or music, or even misinterprets the song, can be given up to 15 days in prison.

Yang’s online fame seems to have taken a hit from her botched anthem, as well, as video streaming sites blocked her content and deleted her previous videos.

“My actions have deeply hurt everyone’s feelings. Sorry—so sorry—to my homeland, sorry to my fans, sorry to netizens, sorry to the online platforms,” she said in a statement, according to the Telegraph. “I will deeply reflect, and fully accept ideological, political and patriotic education, and study hard on the national anthem law and relevant regulations.”

China is serious when it comes to regulating online content. A cybersecurity internet law that went into effect last year banned celebrity news social media accounts and thousands of celebrities themselves from posting online. A popular Chinese social media messaging app called WeChat is also under investigation as authorities look for content deemed harmful for national security.


H/T the Washington Post

Sunny Kim

Sunny Kim

Sunny Kim studies journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. She's an editorial intern with the Daily Dot. Her work has appeared in the Daily Texan and Popular Mechanics.