Chinese K-pop stars publicly back Beijing on Hong Kong | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

Chinese K-pop stars publicly back Beijing on Hong Kong

Associated Press
1560034_web1_1560034-130507e786ef490f8bd3bd5d33bd59a1
AP file
In this March 8, 2015, file photo, South Korean K-pop group EXO member Lay, second from left, speaks during a press conference in Seoul, South Korea. At least eight K-pop stars from China and even one from Taiwan and one from Hong Kong are publicly stating their support for the one-China policy, eliciting a mixture of disappointment and understanding from fans. It’s the latest example of how celebrities and companies feel the pressure to toe the line politically in the important Chinese market.
1560034_web1_1560034-76f51bbfb9424e25bfe061ac1ba634ff
AP file
In this Jan. 14, 2019, file photo, singer Hong Kong singer Jackson Wang performs at the end of the Fendi men’s Fall-Winter 2019-20 collection, that was presented in Milan, Italy. At least eight K-pop stars from China and even one from Taiwan and one from Hong Kong are publicly stating their support for the one-China policy, eliciting a mixture of disappointment and understanding from fans. It’s the latest example of how celebrities and companies feel the pressure to toe the line politically in the important Chinese market.

At least eight pop stars from mainland China and one each from Taiwan and Hong Kong are publicly stating their support for Beijing’s one-China policy, eliciting a mixture of disappointment and understanding from fans.

Many of the statements came after protesters opposed to Beijing’s growing influence over semi-autonomous Hong Kong removed a Chinese flag and tossed it into Victoria Harbour earlier this month.

Lay Zhang, Jackson Wang, Lai Kuan-lin and Victoria Song were among the K-pop singers who recently uploaded a Chinese flag and declared themselves as “one of 1.4 billion guardians of the Chinese flag” on their official Weibo social media accounts. Wang is from Hong Kong and Lai is from Taiwan.

Some see the public pronouncements as the latest examples of how celebrities and companies feel pressured to toe the line politically in the important Chinese market. Yet they also coincide with a surge in patriotism among young Chinese raised on a steady diet of pro-Communist Party messaging.

Song and Zhang, a member of popular group EXO, have shown their Chinese pride on Instagram, in Song’s case by uploading an image of the Chinese flag last week with the caption “Hong Kong is part of China forever.” Such posts would only be seen by their international fans because Instagram, like most Western social media sites, is blocked by the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s censors.

For over a decade, South Korean entertainment agencies have been grooming Chinese singers to be part of their Korean pop, or K-pop, bands in an attempt to win over the massive mainland Chinese market. Only a few made it to a much-coveted debut. But a number of Chinese K-pop stars — citing unfair treatment — left their K-pop groups to pursue lucrative solo careers in mainland China.

K-pop fans reacted swiftly to the avowals of allegiance to China. Some called it shameful, while others were more understanding.

Erika Ng, a 26-year-old Hong Kong fan of Jackson Wang, was not surprised by his statement. She said he “values the China market more than the Hong Kong market” because of his large presence in the mainland.

Wang, a member of the group Got7, used to carry a Hong Kong flag and wear a hat with the city’s symbol, a bauhinia flower. Lately, he has been carrying a Chinese flag on his concert tour and was wearing a China flag hoodie in his music video.

Ellyn Bukvich, a 26-year-old American who has been an EXO fan for five years, said many young fans will probably support Zhang and his message because of his status as a K-pop idol.

“It’s spreading propaganda and it’s very effective,” Bukvich said.

The one-China policy maintains that there is only one Chinese government, and it is a key diplomatic point accepted by most nations in the world, including the U.S. It is mostly aimed at the democratic island of Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a breakaway province to be reunited with the mainland by force if necessary.

In the case of Hong Kong, a former British colony handed back to Chinese control in 1997, Beijing maintains a “one country, two systems” policy in which the city is guaranteed greater freedoms than those on the mainland until 2047.

China’s government and entirely state-controlled media have consistently portrayed the Hong Kong protest movement as an effort by criminals trying to split the territory from China, backed by hostile foreigners.

International brands — from fashion companies to airlines — have been compelled to make public apologies for perceived breaches of that policy, such as listing Taiwan and Hong Kong as separate countries on their websites or on T-shirts.

Zhang terminated his partnership with Samsung Electronics last week, accusing the South Korean mobile giant of damaging China’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The statement in a Weibo post was prompted by Samsung having separate language options for users in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan on its global website. Both Hong Kong and Taiwan use traditional Chinese characters instead of the simplified ones used in mainland China, and Hong Kong also has English as an official language. Samsung declined to comment on whether it will continue to provide different language options for Taiwan and Hong Kong.

It can be difficult to know whether loyalty vows to Beijing are heartfelt or for commercial reasons. The past is littered with examples of celebrities, both Chinese and foreign, who saw their business in China destroyed after the party objected to a statement or an action.

In 2016, Taiwanese K-pop star Chou Tzu-yu made a public apology for waving the Taiwanese flag while appearing on a South Korean television show. A Chinese vilification campaign against her led to a backlash among some Taiwanese, who at the time were in the midst of a presidential election eventually won by Tsai Ing-wen, who is despised by Beijing for her pro-independence stance.

Public support for Beijing hasn’t been limited to pop stars.

Liu Yifei, the Chinese-born star of Disney’s upcoming live-action version of the film “Mulan,” weighed in on the situation in Hong Kong, where protesters have accused police of abuses.

“I support the Hong Kong police,” Liu, a naturalized U.S. citizen, wrote on her Weibo account. “You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong.”

Some questioned her motives, wondering if the post was calculated to ensure her film is released widely in China — the world’s largest film market. Among Hong Kong protesters, there were swift calls for a boycott of the film when it is released next year.

Categories: News | World | Music
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.