Over 40,000 people have signed a petition, as of Friday morning, demanding cosmetic giant Lancôme reverse its decision to cancel a concert featuring pro-democracy Canto-pop singer Denise Ho Wan-see. Lancôme scrapped a concert to be held June 19 featuring Ho on Sunday night “due to possible safety reasons,” leading to a worldwide backlash.

Prior to Lancôme’s announcement, Chinese netizens called for a boycott of the company after the state-backed Global Times linked Ho with Hong Kong and Tibetan independence movements – a topic she has rarely spoken on.

The petition, to be delivered to Stephen Mosely, the president and director general of L’Oreal Hong Kong, called for a boycott of Lancôme should it not allow the concert to proceed. L’Oreal is the parent company of Lancôme. “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,” it said.

Ho released statements in Chinese, English and French on Monday, saying that Lancôme’s decision “seriously misled the public” and damaged her reputation. The singer was a prominent supporter of the pro-democracy Occupy movement and was arrested during the protests in 2014. The controversy sparked a protest on Wednesday calling for a boycott of Lancôme and L’Oreal as Lancôme stores closed for the day.

Leticia Lee poses with Lancôme products. Photo: Leticia Lee.

Meanwhile, two controversial local pro-establishment activists, Leticia Lee and Anna Chan Ching-sum, have taken different positions on the issue. Lee, who is known for her opposition to the pro-democracy Occupy protests and support for the police force, called for support for “this conscience-possessing international brand” and for the “‘freedom of choice’ for brands in Hong Kong”

Anna Chan. Photo: StandNews.

Chan, who is usually known for her similar stance to Lee, said this time that “[she finds] the Lancôme incident very suspicious. Why would an international brand partner with outdated singers like Denise Ho?” There was reason to believe that this was all a plan to “make some small tricks before the Legislative Council elections in September,” said Chan.

She added that she will tell her friends to “boycott all L’OREA[sic] products!”

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.