A man has been detained by Hong Kong police for allegedly insulting the Chinese national anthem – the first arrest of its kind in the city.

Hongkongers watch Edgar Cheung strike gold at a shopping mall. Photo: StudioIncendo.

Police said the 40-year-old waved a British colonial Hong Kong flag while urging others to “boo” the Chinese anthem – March of the Volunteers – as well as chant slogans during a livestream of an awards ceremony from the Tokyo Olympic Games at a mall in Kwun Tong on Monday.

It is the first time the authorities have invoked the controversial new anthem law since came into effect in June last year.

Police senior superintendent Eileen Chung said the man, who claimed to be a journalist, was arrested on Friday outside another shopping mall in Kwai Ching carrying 10 British Hong Kong flags of different sizes. He is currently detained pending further investigation.

Crowds gathered at shopping malls across the city to watch Hong Kong fencer Edgar Cheung as he played in the finals of the men’s individual foil event at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday. Cheung became the second Olympic gold medallist in Hong Kong after beating his opponent 15-11.

Senior Superintendent of Police Eileen Chung. Photo: Hong Kong police, via video screenshot.

At the subsequent medal ceremony, some fans initially booed China’s national anthem and then chanted “We are Hong Kong” in scenes that were broadcast live.

Chung said that the police will look into whether the man had also violated other laws, such as the national security law, which criminalises subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to public transport and other infrastructure.

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