Actor Donnie Yen’s invitation to join the host list at the 2023 Oscars has been attacked by critics after he derided the 2019 pro-democracy Hong Kong protests in an interview.
A petition calling on the Oscars Committee to remove the John Wick star, long a supporter of China’s ruling Communist dictatorship, from the role at the 95th Academy Awards has already drawn 30,000 supporters in less than 48-hours since it launched. It says in part:
We, a group of people from Hong Kong, are writing to express our concern about your decision to invite an actor who supports the Chinese Communist Party’s violation of human rights, Donnie Yen, as a presenter for the Oscars. As a globally recognized film award, the Oscars should represent respect for human rights and moral values, rather than support for actions that violate them.
Donnie Yen is a supporter of the Chinese Communist regime and has made several remarks in support of the Chinese government’s policies, including supporting the implementation of the National Security Law in Hong Kong and accusing Hong Kong protesters of being rioters.
These remarks not only violate the spirit of freedom of speech but also deny the rights of the people of Hong Kong to fight for their freedom and democracy.
Yen is widely known for his roles in Star Wars: Rogue One and Mulan and John Wick: Chapter 4.
He has been the subject of opposition since he spoke out in 2019 against demonstrators moving against the Communist Chinese dictatorship that rules Hong Kong. He is also an unabashed backer of China’s President Xi Jinping and the Beijing government he leads.
In a recent interview, Yen, who starred alongside Keanu Reeves in the latest John Wick outing, told a GQ reporter Hong Kong’s pro-democracy unrest in 2019 was not a public protest.
“It was a riot,” he said.
Saying he did not wish to get political, Yen said he expected some people would be upset by his stance, “but I’m speaking from my own experience.”
He claimed China’s progress in modernisation stunned him, but international media was not fair to China: “The BBC, CNN, they never talk about that. They never mention the true side of it. But I’m there, you know?”
The 2019-2020 Hong Kong protests were a series of mass public demonstrations that began on 15 March, 2019 in response to the introduction by the Hong Kong government of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill on extradition.
Pro-democracy protestors called on moviegoers at the time to boycott Disney’s live-action Mulan over actress Liu Yifei’s comments in which she supported Communist China’s crackdown on demonstrators.
Pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, including Joshua Wong, are calling on moviegoers to boycott Disney’s live-action ‘Mulan’ over actress Liu Yifei’s past comment in which she supported Communist China’s crackdown on demonstrators. https://t.co/1bTbjALsye
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) September 5, 2020
They also demanded the Walt Disney Co. drop its repeated deference to China’s Communist dictatorship.
It was one of the largest series of demonstrations in the history of Hong Kong, with thousands arrested in violent scenes across the former British mandate, as Breitbart News reported.
By mid-2020, the Hong Kong government had declared the restoration of peace and stability with the imposition of the national security law.
Donnie Yen was born in Guangzhou, in mainland China, and spent part of his childhood in Hong Kong, later becoming one of the city’s best known action stars.
In 2017 he gave up his U.S. citizenship and reportedly said he was “100 per cent Chinese,” according to the Hong Kong Free Press.
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