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Defying China blacklist, some Hong Kong celebrities are speaking out during protests

Alice Su, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

BEIJING -- Hong Kong singer Denise Ho spoke past two interruptions by a Chinese diplomat at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

Ho said that Hong Kong's democracy and human rights were under "serious attack" and that China should be removed from the council for kidnapping booksellers, jailing activists, disqualifying Hong Kong lawmakers and preventing universal suffrage.

Although more than 1 in 4 Hong Kongers have participated in recent protests, according to organizers' counts, most Hong Kong celebrities have steered clear of participation or public comment.

Entertainers across the Chinese music sphere as well as Western artists have been banned from performing in China because of perceived insult to the Chinese government and its policies.

Ho is among those who have been blacklisted, banned from the mainland, had concerts canceled and lost sponsorship deals because of their pro-democracy activism.

Yet she continues to speak out.

 

Ho's talk came after a month of protests in Hong Kong against an extradition bill that would allow suspected criminals to be sent to China to face trial. Millions of Hong Kongers have protested against the bill, fearing it would erode the region's rule of law and freedom of speech.

The bill has now become a symbol of Hong Kong protesters' resistance to Beijing's growing control over the territory. Protests have erupted into clashes with police and led to dozens of arrests.

Ho had just mentioned the police's use of rubber bullets and tear gas when the Chinese representative to the human rights council interrupted, saying she had used incorrect legal terminology for Hong Kong.

"Four people committed suicide, as an ultimate cry of despair. This anger of Hong Kongers follows years of deceitful promises," Ho said when she regained the floor. "China is preventing our democracy at all costs."

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