The forced exile of a well-known Hong Kong actor over his support for the Sunflower Movement highlights Beijing’s fear of cooperation between Taiwan and the territory
In a surprise announcement on May 26, Hong Kong actor Chapman To (杜汶澤), a rising star in Chinese cinema, said that he and his family were “temporarily” taking leave of the territory and moving abroad. The decision by the 41-year-old, perhaps best known for his role in the classic Infernal Affairs (無間道), followed several weeks of online harassment by Chinese Netizens for his open support of Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement and its occupation of the Legislative Yuan in March.
Other Hong Kong entertainers had joined To in expressing their solidarity for the Sunflowers, among them Anthony Wong (黃秋生) — who also starred in Infernal Affairs — and singer Denise Ho (何韻詩). But To, who had a regular column in the Apple Daily, a publication that is banned from the Chinese market due to its criticism of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), was the main target of Chinese anger. In response to the severe attacks over the past two months, To, who stated that he was leaving for “personal reasons,” said he would never let money buy his principles. This was beyond doubt a reference to the problems that artists who are too vocal in their support for democracy tend to encounter in accessing the highly lucrative Chinese market. In fact, To’s critics have called for a boycott of the movies in which he features, and film projects he was involved with appear to have suddenly found it difficult to secure financing. (We do not know at this point whether To was threatened with physical violence.)
My article, published today on Thinking Taiwan, continues here.