Uproar over Carina Lau's Weibo posting

7 August 2013 / 3 years 2 months ago

When Hong Kong actress Carina Lau visited Beijing last month, she did what many tourists do: uploaded online a photo of herself at Tiananmen Square.

But the reaction was hardly run-of-the-mill.

According to a report in The Straits Times, her post on Chinese social media Sina Weibo attracted 40,000 comments, was reposted 30,000 times, and sparked a war of words.

The trigger was her controversial message. "48 years… I am finally here! The East is red, the sun is in my heart," wrote the 48-year-old, in apparent allusion to the Chinese Communist Party song that idealises Mao Zedong as China's sun.

Passionate words but they left some fans cold even as ensuing debate on Lau's page veered into the relative merits of the Chinese and American political systems.

"Such an ass-kisser! I've always treated you as my idol!" cried one netizen.

Another wrote: "Sigh! Hong Kongers are becoming 'red'. A lot of people died in Tiananmen Square in 1989!"

Hong Kong celebrities generally steer clear of politics, except at major historical junctures such as the Tiananmen incident, for which a fund-raising concert was organised.

One reason, says political scientist Dixon Sing of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, is concern that they may get shut out of China's market.

But in Hong Kong's increasingly more polarised and politicised environment, some, like Wong, have found themselves caught up in political fracas while others have become more forthright in airing their views.

One is ex-TVB actress Erica Yuen, just-elected chairman of the radical People's Power.

Singer Anthony Wong Yiu Ming took part in the anti-national education and July 1 protests, while singer Deanie Ip urged the government to solve the city's housing challenges during a concert in March. Hong Kong leader Leung Chun Ying's wife was in the audience.

Analysts attribute the nascent trend to growing public discontent and what Dr Sing terms "escalating conflict between civil society and government" over worries that Hong Kong values such as freedom of speech are being undermined.

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