Several entertainers have denied signing a petition backing Beijing’s plan to implement national security legislation in Hong Kong.
Local celebrities including movie stars Jackie Chan, Eric Tsang and Liza Wang were among 2,605 signatories listed in a joint statement from Hong Kong arts and cultural sector groups last Friday.
“[We] fully understand safeguarding national security is the utmost importance to Hong Kong, and [we] support the decision of the National People’s Congress (NPC) to impose national security laws in Hong Kong,” the statement read.
“[We] hope that when the NPC Standing Committee makes the relevant laws to block national security loopholes, it can at the same time guarantee the industry’s normal level of creative freedom and development.”
The petition was also signed by lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok of the sports, performing arts, culture and publication constituency, as well as 110 industry associations.
China’s parliament approved plans to impose laws to punish subversion, secession, foreign interference and terrorism last Thursday, following months of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The legislation will likely be inserted into the city’s mini-constitution, bypassing the local legislature.
Beijing’s unprecedented move has stunned democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used to silence and punish dissidents in China. The US last Friday announced plans to strip Hong Kong of its trade and economic privileges after concluding that the city could no longer be considered “sufficiently autonomous” from China.
Actor and former singer Ram Chiang’s Chinese name was on the list of signatories. But he clarified via his Facebook fan page on Sunday that he had not signed the petition.
“I believe it was someone else who had the same name as me,” the statement read.
HKFP contacted one of the signatories – the Association for Betterment of Hong Kong’s Entertainment Industry in Mainland China – who said the real signatory was a Chinese calligraphy artist with the same name as Chiang.
Hong Kong pianist Jacqueline Li also said she had not participated in the petition. She told Stand News on Sunday that she was not aware of anyone in the arts and music industry who had the same name as her and raised doubts over the authenticity of the campaign.
“I have no idea where the statement came from, I was never asked to sign anything,” said Li, who performs for the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, a symphony orchestra.
Taiwanese paper United Daily News reported that Taiwanese actress Barbie Hsu had also denied receiving an invitation or notification to join the petition, according to her manager.
Earlier last week, another group of Hong Kong entertainers – including singers Anthony Wong and Denise Ho – voiced opposition to Beijing’s decision, citing concerns over the potential for “serious suppression” of creative freedom.
During last Thursday’s press conference, the group slammed the language of the draft law as “vague.”
They questioned whether singers would be banned from performing songs about sensitive topics, such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. They also raised doubts over whether lyricists would be penalised for participating in “subversive” acts, like referencing the ongoing protest movement in their songs.
“In a creative space that is on a countdown, [we will] create more pieces of art to document the horror of this moment, and to speak up for Hongkongers,“ said Adrian Chow, a member of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council.