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. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)
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Chinese K-pop stars publicly back Beijing on Hong Kong

15 Comments
By JUWON PARK

At least eight K-pop stars from China and even one from Taiwan and one from 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 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.

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 in the past 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 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 their 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 languages. 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 amid 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," she 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.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


15 Comments
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No surprise here, surely. They know which side their bread is buttered. China is an important market for them, a few misplaced words and they are banned from entering and playing in China. Needs must when the devil drives....

4 ( +6 / -2 )

They know not to cut off the hand that feeds them.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Mouthpieces for the CCP. Surprised? Not me.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Ever considered they may believe in what they say? I'm not saying I agree with them, but strange as it may seem, some people do agree with China

2 ( +4 / -2 )

They wear GUCCI and live on their knees.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Dasai!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

CHINESE K-Pop stars? That is actually a thing?

Man, these china people can't seem to come up with anything original. Even their pop stars are rip-offs of other people's cultures.

I support the Hong Kong police," she wrote on her Weibo account. "You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong."

What a shame you are chinese government puppet.

Freedom for Hong Kong!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Ever considered they may believe in what they say?

I'd be surprised if they didn't believe it. It's surprising how well dictatorships are able to shape their people's thoughts.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Always good to keep track on the pulse of K-pop and thier opinions. OMG... we suck.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Of course they do. Their families are hostage of the CCP.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Wesley:

I believe the members are in a k-pop band in korea. Granted, if they were based in China I would call them c-pop.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Putting aside where one stands on hong kong and taiwan in regards to China, having different language options does not destroy territorial integrity. US and Canada have been using Spanish and French, respectively, along with majority English. Sure Quebec threatens to leave every so often, but democracy (parliamentary- the better kind, IMHO, though not proportionally representative) and referenda ease the tensions and gives federal govt legitimacy. To paraphrase Princess/Senator/General/Supreme Rebel Commader/Etc "the more you tighten your grip, the easier it is to slip through."

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They likely have family in china which could be implicated, it's not a matter of what you believe in. They could truly believe it but either way they will say it like their lives depended on it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Everyone wants to believe that their govt is made up of kind people looking out for the general guy on the street. Inside China, things have been pretty great for the last 20 yrs, effectively under the same leadership as today, so there is a bunch of trust.

Since they don't easily have access to ideas from the rest of the world (except Chinese state-sponsored hackers), they are inside a state-controlled echo chamber hearing how great things are. Dissenting opinions aren't allowed to trend online. They are controlled, just like Winnie the Pooh and Tigger have been, except with more effort in control for things that really matter.

Ai Weiwei became much less active when they pulled his family off the streets. Have to wonder if any suggestion might have been made to these Fine People.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

WesleyAug. 20 02:48 pm JSTCHINESE K-Pop stars? That is actually a thing?

Man, these china people can't seem to come up with anything original. Even their pop stars are rip-offs of other people's cultures.

I support the Hong Kong police," she wrote on her Weibo account. "You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong."

What a shame you are chinese government puppet.

Freedom for Hong Kong!

We're talking a totalitarian nation here. Even the pop stars of China have to get their 'ok' from the Party. Everything is centered around the CCP there, even the entertainment. And it's to glorify the Party.

they are inside a state-controlled echo chamber hearing how great things are. Dissenting opinions aren't allowed to trend online. They are controlled

That's what 'totalitarian' means - TOTAL CONTROL. Everything there is kept all out of sight, unless anyone is lucky enough to defect and spill the beans.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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