Pro-democracy supporters and frustrated individuals from Hong Kong have launched a petition to have actor Donnie Yen removed as a presenter for the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony. T
he petition, which was created by Fu Tong, who participated in Hong Kong’s anti-extradition protests in 2019, has recently surpassed 100,000 signatures.
Many of those who signed cited Yen’s previous comments regarding the pro-democracy protests and his affiliation with the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), one of China’s top advisory committees, as the reasons for their support.
Donnie Yen attended China’s “Two Session,” which includes the meetings of the CPPCC and the National People’s Congress. He represented Hong Kong’s cultural and art sector at the event.
However, supporters of the petition have raised concerns that having Yen as a presenter at the Oscars would be equivalent to providing a platform for China’s authoritarian regime, given his affiliation with the CPPCC.
Yen received criticism after referring to the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong as “riots” and questioning the credibility of outlets such as BBC, CNN, and the “western media” in a recent GQ interview.
It’s worth noting that the international community recognized the 2019 Hong Kong protests as peaceful while condemning the harsh tactics employed by the Hong Kong Police Force and the Beijing-imposed national security law that followed in 2020.
This legislation has resulted in the arrests of numerous pro-democracy activists, journalists, and even former legislators. Yen’s comments have caused controversy among supporters of the petition.
Over the past decade, Hollywood’s approach to China has undergone a significant shift due to rising political tensions between China and the western world. Major studios have faced backlash for their efforts to maintain access to the Chinese market, and this has been further compounded by China’s recent cultural shift.
The Communist Party-led government has prioritized domestically produced films while restricting the number of Hollywood films allowed into the country. However, there are indications of a possible reversal in this trend, possibly due to a struggling Chinese film industry.
Several Chinese celebrities have publicly expressed their support for the Communist Party and its leader, Xi Jinping, following the start of his historic third term. At the Party Congress held last year, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star Zhang Ziyi stated that she understood the general secretary’s request and would adhere to a people-centred creative orientation.
She pledged to promote Chinese culture and spread its voice to the world.