Google has decided not to remove a banned protest song from its top search results and replace it with China’s national anthem when users search for Hong Kong’s national anthem. Hong Kong’s security chief then expressed “great regret” at the decision.

Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, has not immediately responded to requests for comment.

According to Asia Nikkei, Chris Tang, the city’s security minister, said that Google turned down the local government’s request to “pin” “March of the Volunteers,” China’s national anthem, at the top of search results for “Hong Kong’s anthem.”

Tang said, “We express our deepest regret,” adding, “It has hurt the feelings of the Hong Kong people.”

As Guardian News reported, Chris Tang said that a request to Google to replace the protest anthem with China’s national anthem as the top search term was turned down. Google explained that search results are ranked using algorithms

Local officials demanded an investigation last month after the unofficial anthem of the 2019 pro-democracy protests “Glory to Hong Kong,” being played instead of “March of the Volunteers” at the men’s final of a sevens rugby tournament in South Korea in November.

“Glory to Hong Kong,” the song during mass pro-democracy protests in 2019, was banned in 2020. At that time, Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law to crack down on what Beijing defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.

Earlier, a Hong Kong authority spokesman said Asia Rugby had verified the team’s coach had provided the “correct” recording. 

However, the wrong song was played owing to “human error of a junior staffer of the local organizer.”

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