When China started its crackdown on Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters, it did not only challenge the “One Country Two Systems” promised in 1997, but also the stands of hundreds of celebrities on the island. Unlike decades ago where movie stars and celebrities relied solely on the island’s 7 million population, nowadays it’s China’s 1.3 billion population that determine Hong Kong celebrities’ income.
Naturally, Hong Kong superstars were divided in their support for the pro-democracy movement. Predictably, in order to safeguard their (golden) rice bowl, majority of them prefer to keep an elegant silence. As much as they like to show their support to the pro-democracy students, they simply can’t afford to. And it’s not hard to understand why. Many celebrities make most of their fortune riding on China’s gravy train – as much as 80%.
Beside the “neutral” celebrities, there’re some, mostly heavyweights, who openly support the pro-democracy rallies. These superstars were treated with utmost respect, at least to the people who treasure democracy. Denise Ho, a local pop singer, derived about 80% of her income in Mainland China. But ever since she performed a new song – “Raise the Umbrella” – she has had no invitations to perform there.
Chapman To, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Tony Leung, Andy Lau and Chow Yun-Fat are some of the thousands of celebrities with balls of steel – defended pro-democracy protesters, and criticised the police for the use of tear gas on demonstrators in Hong Kong. In a post on the Andy World Club fan site, actor Andy Lau called on protesters to “not let their feelings be swayed by a few people sowing discord”, and said there should be “no tear gas, no violence, no abuse”.
In an interview with newspaper Apple Daily, Mr Chow said: “I’ve met the residents, the students – they are very brave and it’s touching to see that they’re fighting for what they want. The students are reasonable. If the government can come up with a solution that the citizens or students are satisfied with, I believe the crisis will end.” Amazingly, when asked about his thoughts on China’s alleged ban on pro-democracy celebrities, Mr Chow responded – “Then I’ll just make less!”
Obviously, Chow Yun-Fat, the superstar who shot to stardom in Hong Kong through his film “A Better Tomorrow” and in Hollywood via “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” has no financial problem. Known for his humble and gracious nature, Mr Chow has announced early of the year to donate his entire HKD1 billion (US$129 million; £80 million; RM422 million) fortune to charity after he dies. And since he routinely takes public transportation and dresses in “clothes purchased years ago”, this “taikor” can afford to tell Beijing to fly kites.
Armies of China-controlled news media have started propaganda denouncing these pro-democracy celebrities as disloyal to the country. Of course, thousands of ignorant mainland Chinese who don’t even know how to write the word “democracy” agree blindly that these artists should be blacklisted. It doesn’t matter that the whole demonstration was about preserving de facto democracy, not about pulling Hong Kong out from China.
As far as Beijing is concerned, Hong Kongers who scream for democracy are spoilt little brats who need spanking, And whoever shows the slightest support would be punished. Beijing government knew it has the wealth to suppress and oppress the celebrities. Even an American celebrity – jazz saxophonist Kenny G – had chicken out the very moment China showed its displeasure about the musician’s initial support for the demonstrations.
In fact, Kenny G was worse than Jackie Chan, the martial arts actor who have been sucking up to Beijing for as long as one can remember. Not only Kenny deleted photos of himself at one of the protest sites obediently at lightning speed, he also posted on his Twitter and Facebook numerous times declaring he wasn’t supporting the demonstrators, as if begging for forgiveness, much to the Beijing’s amusement..
As for Jackie Chan, every Tom, Dick and his hamster knows that he has a history of parroting the Communist Party’s every single policy. The goofy kung fu comedian had even declared that Beijing’s air pollution doesn’t exist. In fact, Jackie was such a good apple polisher that Beijing figured it would be unfair not to extend a military licensed car to him. In short, Jackie is not only the most hated celebrity in Hong Kong but also in Taiwan.
Nevertheless, to be fair to Jackie Chan, he has every reason to be the first person to ask “how high” whenever President Xi Jinping says “jump”. Just like Hong Kong film director Wong Jing, Jackie Chan relies heavily on mainland China to grow his HKD2.2 billion (USD280 million; £175 million; RM930 million) fortune. But there’s another compelling reason for Jackie to jack up Beijing even higher now.
His son, Jaycee Chan, was arrested by the Chinese Communist Party police on drug usage last month. Going by the Chinese SOP, Jaycee’s career as an actor in mainland China is essentially over if he spends time in jail. So, the senior Chan needs all the “helps” he can get from Beijing to “lighten” up the punishment – as much as possible.
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