Asia HK celebrities who support protests have to pay the price

HK celebrities who support protests have to pay the price

Celebrities who support the protest have been subjected to boycotts and blacklists while those who support mainland China such as Jackie Chan are in the clear

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Hong Kong — As protests have escalated in Hong Kong, people from the entertainment industry have been speaking up, with some in favour of China’s stand, and others siding with the demonstrators clamoring for free elections and greater democracy for Hong Kong.

Jackie Chan, who is arguably Hong Kong’s biggest star, made his position clear in a recent video interview with China Central Television, the predominant state television broadcaster in mainland China, where he said, “I feel the pride of being a Chinese everywhere, the Five-starred Red Flag is respected worldwide. I also deeply feel that safety, stability and peace are like fresh air, you never know how precious it is until you lose it.

Hong Kong and the mainland are my birthplaces and my home, I love my country and my home. I really hope that Hong Kong can return to peace soon.”

The protestors, who have been met with increasing violence from police, have managed to cripple operations in Hong Kong International Airport since last weekend, causing all flights in and out of the city to stop on Monday, August 12.

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Earlier this month, one protestor’s act of throwing China’s flag into the sea was met with widespread condemnation even from celebrities such as model Angelababy and singers Daniel Chan and Jordan Chan, who posted photos of China’s flag on their Weibo accounts, along with the following hashtags: the Chinese national flag has 1.4 billion flag bearers” and “I am a flag bearer”.

But some entertainers have been vocal in their support for the demonstrators, or have even joined the protests. Singer-actresses Deanie Ip and Denise Ho, Cantopop star Anthony Wong You-Ming, and actors Chapman To and Anthony Wong Chau-sang have all taken the side of the protestors.

Seventy-one-year-old award winning actress Ms Ip has been seen in several of the demonstrations and has been publicly critical of the government of Hong Kong, causing her songs to be removed from China’s biggest music  platforms such as QQ, Xiami, and NetEase Cloud Music. 

Ms Ip said, “Hong Kong can be saved.”

Ms Ho’s music has similarly been removed from airplay and has been blacklisted from performing in China, where she had stayed over 100 concerts. She has been outspoken at the Oslo Freedom Forum and the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, wherein her speech was frequently interrupted by diplomats.

Variety writes that actress Charmaine Sheh was hounded by trolls when she liked one Instagram post that showed the protests. The actress later issued an apology, writing, “I was shocked when I realized what was in the post.”

But for actor Tony Leung Ka-fai, who attended a pro-police rally on June 30 bearing a placard that said “Support the Police,” the outcome has been very different. The actor’s directorial debut, “Midnight Diner,” has recently been given an August 30 schedule for showing in Beijing, although it was filmed two years ago and had previously had difficulty in getting a definite screening date.

Lay Zhang Yixing, a Chinese singer formerly of K-pop group Exo, recently cancelled the concert he had scheduled for August 17, saying the cancellation was due to security concerns. He posted on Instagram on August 14, “I support the Hong Kong police.”

Mr Zhang had been appointed an ambassador for the Communist Youth League of central Hunan province in 2016.

Despite the protests which began 10 weeks ago, Hong Kong’s box office is doing better than it had done earlier in the year, rising almost 12 percent year-on-year. Since early June cinemas have earned HK$410 million (S$ 72.5 million), compared to HK$366 million (S$ 64.7 million) during the same time period last year.  -/TISG

Read related: Jackie Chan unaware of protests in home city Hong Kong: “I don’t know anything about it”

Jackie Chan unaware of protests in home city Hong Kong: “I don’t know anything about it”

 

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