A petition demanding that the cosmetic giant Lancôme reverse its decision to cancel a concert featuring pro-democracy singer Denise Ho Wan-see has gained traction online. Prior to the announcement, Chinese netizens had called for a boycott of Lancôme products and also of its Listerine mouthwash brand. The company dropped Ho, who is known for her outspoken pro-democracy stance, on Sunday.

The French petition has garnered over 2,200 signatures, and includes a letter directed at the President and Managing Director of L’Oreal’s Hong Kong branch, Stephen Mosely. L’Oreal owns the Lancôme brand.

Petition for Lancôme
Petition page calling for Lancôme to allow Denise Ho Wan-sees concert to proceed. Photo: Screenshot from change.org

The petition called for a boycott of Lancôme should it not allow Ho’s concert to proceed.

“We cannot accept Lancôme as an “ambassador” of France – a country of human rights – to Hong Kong, while it sacrifices freedom of thought and freedom of expression in its trade policy. We cannot accept that French companies bend to the dictates of the Chinese Communist Party,” the petition said.

In a statement released on Sunday night, Lancôme said the concert had been cancelled due to “possible safety reasons”.

Denise Ho Lancome
Photo: Lancôme and Wikicommons.

Ho released a statement on Monday, saying that Lancôme’s decision “seriously misled the public” and damaged her reputation. The singer is a prominent supporter of the pro-democracy Occupy movement and was arrested during the protests in 2014.

Global Times, the Chinese state media outlet which sparked the campaign from Chinese citizens to boycott Ho’s concert, released a commentary on Lancôme’s decision earlier on Tuesday, saying that companies should realise that participating in politics comes with great risk.

“If they wish to participate in the Chinese market and profit from it, they must not do anything that threatens the interests of China, this applies to both inside and outside of the country’s borders. This idea is the ‘status quo’.” the paper said.

Gene Lin is a Journalism and Computer Science student at The University of Hong Kong. He worked as a reporter for the 'LIVE: Verified Updates' during the Occupy Central protests. He is also an editor at HKU's first English-language student paper, The Lion Post.