Cytus II game removed in China over links to pro-Hong Kong morse code message

A popular mobile music game has been removed in China for “rectification and internal evaluation” after it emerged its music director wrote a song containing a pro-Hong Kong message hidden in morse code.

Cytus II, a game by Taiwan’s Rayark Games, would be relaunched soon, its Chinese distributor Dragonest said, following the discovery of the phrase “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times”, a message that China considers secessionist.

Wilson Lam, Rayark’s musical director and a Hong Kong musician known as Ice, uploaded a song, Telegraph 1344 7609 2575, to his personal SoundCloud and YouTube accounts in March. Neither Soundcloud nor YouTube are accessible in mainland China, but the discovery of the phrase prompted widespread online reaction.

Following the backlash, Lam resigned from Rayark, saying that while the song had no relation to Rayark or his job there, “I raised my resignation so that all criticism regarding this piece of private work could be targeted to me as the creator of this piece of work, not Rayark and my colleagues who didn’t know [of its] existence.”

Dragonest Games said on Weibo neither it nor Rayark had knowledge of Lam’s song, and they had accepted his resignation. “We are extremely sorry for the adverse effects caused by this and we strongly condemn the actions of the composer,” it said.

Lam said he had worked for Rayark since 2014, producing musical works for various games.

The phrase “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times” had been an increasingly common slogan at Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, but was outlawed as seditious content under the draconian national security laws imposed by Beijing late last month.

On 1 July, the first full day under the new laws, about 10 people were arrested, including some for carrying or waving a flag bearing the slogan.

In April the popular Nintendo Switch game, Animal Crossing, was also removed from sale in some Chinese websites after it was used to spread pro-Hong Kong democracy messages.