Is it a case of “Speak up and be damned; keep quiet and be equally damned”?
As Hong Kong Protests Continue, Stars Get Caught Up in the Vitriol
Although many Hong Kong celebrities have remained relatively silent on the issue – perhaps for fear of hurting their careers in China, where the ruling Communist Party is quick to retaliate against performers who don’t toe the line – some have spoken out. Among the few who have vocally expressed support for the protesters or even joined them are actor Chapman To and Anthony Wong Chau-sang, Cantopop singer Anthony Wong Yiu-ming, and singer-actresses Denise Ho and Deanie Ip.
Ip, 71, won the best actress prize at the Venice Film Festival for her role in the 2011 drama “A Simple Life.” Her attendance at numerous rallies and public criticism of the Hong Kong government’s refusal to formally withdraw the extradition bill, rather than just suspend it, has prompted mainland China’s major music streaming platforms wipe out her songs from top apps like QQ, Xiami, and NetEase Cloud Music.
“Hong Kong can be saved,” Ip told local media.
Ho has spoken out in settings such as the Oslo Freedom Forum and the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva — where Chinese diplomats repeatedly interrupted her as she accused China of “preventing our democracy at all costs.” She has live-streamed footage of herself attending the protests.
She had been a rising star in mainland China back in 2014, having played more than 100 concerts there, but was blacklisted from performing and her songs scrubbed from the airwaves after she took part in similar protests five years ago.
Hong Kong actress Charmaine Sheh (“Story of Yanxi Palace,” “Line Walker”), who has a large following in the mainland, was attacked on social media by pro-China trolls after she liked an Instagram post depicting the protests, even though the platform is blocked in China. She later apologized on Chinese social media, saying: “I was shocked when I realized what was in the post.”
Other Hong Kong celebs have come out actively in favor of Beijing.
Actor Tony Leung Ka-fai and Cantopop stars Allan Tam and Kenny Bee, who were also former bandmates in the popular 1970s band The Wynners, took part in a pro-police rally on June 30. Bee took to the stage to criticize the young protesters, calling them “ridiculous,” and Leung posed with a sign reading, “Support the Police.”
Photos and videos of former fans ripping up and smashing Tam’s albums and posters went viral. Tam “really crossed the line” with his show of “support of police brutality against peaceful protesters,” said Chris Ng, a barrister who tweeted a photo of his trashed Tam paraphernalia.
Leung’s film “Chasing the Dragon II” was in mainland theaters at the time, where it grossed $43.6 million (RMB306 million). His directorial debut, “Midnight Diner,” is set to hit mainland theaters on Aug. 30. Online social media users were quick to note that his film, shot in 2017, had not been able to land a screening date, but finally got one after his appearance at the rally.
And earlier this month, after protesters dumped the Chinese flag into the sea, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV launched a social media campaign around the hashtag “1.4 billion protectors of the national flag.” It has been retweeted by Jackie Chan, director Pang Ho-Cheung, actor Shawn Yue, and Hong Kong-born singer Jackson Wang, member of the K-Pop boyband GOT7, who have declared themselves “flag protectors.”
Hong Kong commenters have been particularly incensed by Pang’s pro-Beijing stance since his films, such as “Love in a Puff,” are seen as quintessentially Hong Kong. Chapman To, a previous collaborator of Pang’s, wrote a furious Facebook message on the director’s page that summed up Hong Kongers’ feelings of betrayal by local celebs issuing such pro-China statements.
“You’ve already made a lot of money,” To wrote. “Call yourself a ‘national flag protector’? Then why didn’t you jump into the sea to pick up the flag? Stop deceiving Hong Kong people for their money!”
Chan had previously pleaded ignorance when asked about his stance on the Hong Kong protests in June. But on Tuesday, the “Rush Hour” star told CCTV that he retweeted their hashtag “as soon as I saw it,” declaring his patriotism with the statement: “I am a national flag protector.”
“Hong Kong is my birthplace and my hometown. China is my country. I love my country and my hometown,” he said.
Also on Tuesday, Chinese pop singer Lay Zhang Yixing — who rose to stardom as part of the K-pop group Exo — canceled his upcoming Saturday concert in Hong Kong, which was to be held at a venue near the airport, where mass sit-ins by protestors has brought one of Asia’s busiest travel hubs to a standstill. He cited security concerns due to the protests. On Wednesday, he posted on Instagram: “I support the Hong Kong police.” Three years ago, Zhang was named ambassador for central Hunan province’s Communist Youth League.
Be aware that this is an old article:
New Panama Papers revealed: Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan’s offshore firms named in leaked tax documents
But international journalists’ body insists there is no evidence offshore companies were used for improper purposes
A treasure trove of confidential tax documents leaked to the media years ago is making headlines again with fresh details of offshore accounts and assets held by the world’s rich and powerful – this time also including prominent Hong Kong figures.
The documents, which Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca said were stolen from it, were studied by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which compiled a report on hidden offshore accounts held by 140 politicians and public officials from around the world.
Mossack Fonseca claims it has broken no law for 40 years, but has been investigated in several countries over money laundering allegations.
According to the latest leaks, kung fu superstar Jackie Chan has at least six companies managed by the law firm.
But the ICIJ clarified: “As with many of Mossack Fonseca’s clients, there is no evidence that Chan used his companies for improper purposes. Having an offshore company isn’t illegal.”
In a related report, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper said Mossack Fonseca staff had debated whether to report Sun Hung Kai Properties to financial crime authorities in the British Virgin Islands in 2012 after company executive Thomas Chan Kui-yuen was arrested for bribery in Hong Kong.
According to leaked papers, they were concerned that it would be illegal for Chan to remain as director of a shell company he controlled.
The law firm became suspicious when Sun Hung Kai refused to provide due diligence documents, claiming Chan’s company had been inactive for years.
The property giant yesterday denied breaking any laws, noting that using offshore companies was a common practice.