Lancome faces backlash from Hong Kong netizens for axing pro-democracy singer’s performance

Cosmetics giant Lancome faced boycott calls on yesterday after cancelling a concert featuring outspoken pro-democracy singer Denise Ho, who has been critical of China.

Ho, also known as HOCC, was due to perform at the promotional event in Sheung Wan on June 19.

But Lancome said in a statement late Sunday it was axing the gig for “possible safety reasons”, sparking anger among Hong Kong netizens.

Many Hongkongers believe the cancellation was a reaction to comments on state-run news outlet Global Times.

The paper said in a Weibo post on Saturday that Lancome was cooperating with a “Hong Kong poison” and a “Tibet poison” — a reference to Ho’s praise for the Dalai Lama and support for independence (poison sounds similar to independence in both Mandarin and Cantonese).

A flurry of angry commentary broke out online after the Lancome announcement, with more than 20,000 tagging an “angry” face on the brand’s Facebook page for the Hong Kong market.

Some threatened to boycott its products.

One person, Ng Yuen-yan, said: “Rubbish. I will never buy (its products).” Another, Winnie Leung, said: “Are you kidding me? Are you saying Hong Kong is not a safe place? If this is so, I would highly suggest Lancome retreat your business out of Hong Kong… this incident is definitely a good example of what we called ‘PR disaster’.”

Photo: Jessica Mak via Facebook

One commenter, Jessica Mak, simply posted a photo of herself giving the middle finger to a Lancome display, which has been liked over 3,200 times.

The concert had earlier faced criticism in mainland China, where netizens said Lancome was using money from Chinese customers to support independence for Hong Kong and Tibet.

Ho demanded an explanation for the cancellation.

“Freedom, justice and equality have always been pursued by Hong Kongers,” she said in a statement on her Facebook page.

“We must seriously face up to this when an international brand is bending to bullies.” Last month, Ho posted a picture of her with Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on her Facebook account, describing him as the “most respected teacher”.

Words: AFP, with additional reporting by Coconuts Hong Kong

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