Chinese Celebrity Yang Kaili Arrested for ‘Disrespecting’ the Anthem

By Cody Foster

Many of you probably remember the debate in America over NFL players kneeling during the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ in protest of ongoing police brutality towards African-Americans. Some players (i.e. Colin Kaepernick) were fired; however, when taking into consideration what happened to Yang Kaili, one of China’s most popular live-streamers on the app Huya, this was a light punishment.


On October 7th, 2019, Huya streamer Yang Kaili was live-streaming to a few of her 2 million or so followers. During this stream, Kaili ironically sang ‘March of the Volunteers’ poorly. Soon after, Chinese authorities came to Kaili’s home and detained her. She was held in prison for five days.


Last year, the Chinese government, under President Xi Jinping, passed a law that forbade a poor public performance of the national anthem. During a soccer match between the Hong Kong and Chinese national team, many fans of the Hong Kong team turned their backs during the Chinese national anthem. Many of the fans were detained.


The law states that anyone who disrespects the flag publicly can be held in a jail for up to fifteen days. The law prohibits any disrespect towards Chinese heroes or martyrs. A writer was detained for making an online joke about a legendary Communist hero who died in the Korean War.


The Kaili situation is the first time where a high-profile celebrity has been detained for breaking this law, and while she did not disrespect any heroes or martyrs, but the exact statement of the law is very vague and open-ended which could result in the arrest for any disrespect towards any Chinese patriotism or history. Upon release from prison, Kaili issued a public apology for her discourtesy towards Chinese culture.