What happened: On Saturday (October 13), Shanghai police revealed that Yang Kaili – a live-streaming celebrity better known as “Lige” – was detained for five days after singing the Chinese national anthem in a “disrespectful” manner online. On October 7, Yang jokingly warbled the opening words from the March of the Volunteers on live-streaming platform Huya while sporting a headband with reindeer antlers. Days afterward, Huya blocked her from its platform and took down all her videos, followed by fellow streaming site Douyin. Yang, faced with user backlash in addition to her punishment, has since released two apologies for her “stupid mistake” and said she will no longer broadcast videos. She was detained under a law instated last year that slams those who mock or alter the lyrics of China’s national anthem with up to 15 days of detainment or three years of jail time.
Why it’s important: Yang’s case is another reminder of China’s ongoing online content crackdown, with her seemingly minor offense generating a hefty punishment. Five-day detainment aside, the internet celebrity has likely lost a major part of her income by being forced to leave live-streaming. In this case, however, censure came not only from above but also from below. Many Weibo users have reportedly expressed offense at Yang’s rendition of March of the Volunteers, however short it was. No doubt fearing a backlash from both sides, major platforms Huya and Douyin were quick to act, bringing the curtain down on the young celebrity’s live-streaming career.