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

Alice Su, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Hou Dejian, a Taiwanese singer whose songs were popular during the 1989 protests and who went on a hunger strike alongside dissidents including Liu Xiaobo in Tiananmen Square, now composes nationalistic songs in Beijing.

In 2018, he released a song called "Chinese Dream," praising President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road development plan.

Hong Kong actress Charmaine Sheh received backlash from mainland Chinese internet users after "liking" an Instagram post about the anti-extradition bill protests last month. She later retracted the "like" and posted an apology.

"I love my country and I love Hong Kong," Sheh said.

In 2016, 16-year-old Taiwanese singer Chou Tzu-yu was forced to make a televised apology for waving a Taiwanese flag on a television show in South Korea. Mainland internet users had called for her and her band, Twice, to be banned from performing in China.

"There is only one China," Chou said in her apology, reading flatly from a piece of paper. "I have always felt proud to be Chinese."


Western artists aren't spared from political censorship either. Lady Gaga, Maroon 5 and Bon Jovi have all been banned for having met with or tweeted to the Dalai Lama.

Singer Katy Perry stopped receiving visas to China after she wore a dress featuring sunflower appliques during a performance in Taiwan in 2015 in a seeming nod to the Sunflower Movement, an occupation of the Taiwanese legislature by students protesting a trade agreement they believed would give Beijing too much influence over Taiwan.

Ho faced similar pressures after supporting Hong Kong's pro-democracy Umbrella Movement of 2014, even composing a song called "Raise the Umbrella."

Yellow umbrellas became the movement's symbol after students raised them as protection from tear gas in the streets.


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