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Chinese pop stars have come forward to publicly express their support for China, as Hong Kong's protests enter their eleventh week.
At least eight pop stars from mainland China, as well as a singer from Taiwan and one from Hong Kong, have posted on social media stating their allegiance to Beijing and the one-China policy.
The hashtag #JYPE_CancelGOT7HKConcerts is now trending on Twitter, urging singer Jackson Wang, who was born in Hong Kong, to cancel his boy band GOT7's upcoming concerts on the island, following his support for China.
While Hong Kong's protests have entered their eleventh week — with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets to demand greater democracy and government accountability — several top Chinese pop stars have come forward to publicly express their support for Beijing and the country's one-China policy.
That policy, established at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, recognizes a single government across all regions of China. Under the policy, the US has official relations with China, rather than Taiwan, which Beijing considers a breakaway province that will eventually be reunified with the mainland, according to the BBC.
For Hong Kong, a former British colony that was brought under Chinese control in 1997, the "one country, two systems" policy says the city can enjoy greater autonomy and its own laws until 2047. Until then, it's been designated the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. While Hong Kong is under Chinese sovereignty, it's supposed to have authority over its own political and legal systems.
But earlier this year, China attempted to pass an extradition law that would have allowed Hong Kongers to be extradited to and tried in mainland China. Many in Hong Kong viewed it as a Chinese attempt to suppress the island, erode their separate political system, and bring the region more in line with Beijing.
On the other hand, the Chinese government and state-controlled media has portrayed the protests as an effort to divide the territory away from Hong Kong, under the influence of antagonistic foreigners.
At least eight pop stars from mainland China, as well as a singer from Taiwan and one from Hong Kong, have come forward expressing their full support for Beijing. According to the Associated Press, many of them made those statements after protesters in Hong Kong removed a Chinese flag earlier this month and threw it into Victoria Harbour.
Those pop stars include K-pop singers Lay Zhang, Jackson Wang, Lai Kuan-lin, and Victoria Song, according to the AP. Song recently posted an Instagram with a picture of the Chinese flag and the caption "Hong Kong is part of China forever." On their official Weibo social media accounts, the singers called themselves "one of 1.4 billion guardians of the Chinese flag."
Zhang, who also models for US brand Calvin Klein, criticized the company last week for including both Taiwan and Hong Kong on its list of countries it operates in and threatened to pull his contract with the designer.
"Zhang deeply loves his country and supports the 'One China' policy," he said in a statement on Chinese social media platform Weibo. "He is against any acts or words that split his country. All brands that collaborate with him should be careful about the issue."
Other brands, including Versace and Coach, have lost Chinese celebrity ambassadors because of the controversy, according to Footwear News.
Some have speculated that artists and actors feel pressured to speak out in China's favor because of the desire to succeed in the vast Chinese market.
Many K-pop fans expressed disappointment at the singers for standing behind China. Ellyn Bukvich, a fan of the group EXO, which includes Song and Zhang, told the AP that many young fans will likely continue to support Zhang because he is a K-pop idol, but described his messaging as "spreading propaganda" noting that "it's very effective."
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Others have taken to Twitter with the hashtag #JYPE_CancelGOT7HKConcerts, urging Wang, who was born in Hong Kong, to cancel his boy band GOT7's upcoming concerts on the island, following his support for China. JYP Entertainment is the company that manages GOT7.
An anonymous fan from Hong Kong told the South China Morning Post "we're just hoping JYPE will cancel it. Because it seems too dangerous to continue. Local fans are angry at Jackson lately."
Erika Ng, also a Hong Kong fan of Wang, told the AP that she wasn't surprised by Wang's pro-Beijing statements, adding that he "values the China market more than the Hong Kong market."
Despite the online campaign to cancel the concert, it appears that, as of now, the GOT7 concert is still scheduled to take place in Hong Kong.
It isn't just pop singers who have expressed pro-Beijing sentiment. Last week, Liu Yifei, who will be starring in Disney's upcoming live-action remake of Mulan, voiced her support for police in Hong Kong, despite those officers being accused of brutality toward pro-democracy protesters.
"I support Hong Kong's police. You can all beat me up now," she wrote on Weibo. "What a shame for Hong Kong."
Most of the protesters in Hong Kong have five demands for China: the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill; an independent investigation into police behavior during the protests; the release of protesters who were arrested, with charges against them dropped; for the government to stop referring to the protests as "riots,"; and voting law reforms.
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