Actor Chow Yun-fat, like some other celebrities from Hong Kong, has spoken up in support of pro-democracy demonstrators on the islanders. Like every other celebrity in Hong Kong, and many around the world, Chow draws a significant portion of his income from work in China. The Chinese government is using its control of a billion consumers to try to silence celebrities who might be interested in wading into the discussion over the Hong Kong demonstrations.
It had Kenny G bending over backwards to explain how his innocuous wish for peace and a picture taken at the Hong Kong protests wasn't indicative of anything other than his love for Hong Kong and all of China—Kenny G makes a lot of money in mainland China, even if he can't collect royalties the way he can in other countries.
For some Hong Kong artists, an even more significant portion of their success is predicated on media consumption in China. Nevertheless, as the Taipei Times reports:
[Anthony] Wong, [Denise] Ho [who draws 80 percent of her income singing in China] and other artistic figures from Hong Kong and Taiwan — including actors like Chow Yun-Fat (???) and Tony Leung (???), and a filmmaker Kenneth Ip (??) — have been among the most recognizable faces and voices during the protests that have occupied parts of the city for weeks. Some have spoken at rallies and mingled with students; others have used their social media accounts to express support for the demonstrators.
Before the protests, initially led by a movement called Occupy Central With Love and Peace, the names and faces of these performers were featured regularly on stages and screens in China, as well as in advertisements.
But now they are being shunned by fans and companies in China, on whose support many of their careers depend. Arms of China's state-run news media have denounced them as disloyal to their country. Photographs of a list containing the names of Wong, Ho and other artists were circulated on social media this week. The list was said to be a blacklist of pro-Occupy artists that had been drawn up and sent to mainland news media outlets and entertainment companies, with instructions not to mention or promote the stars.
Chow Yun-fat, for one, says he doesn't care. Asked about the ban, the actor, whose net worth is about $80 million, reportedly said he could "just make less" money.