World Must Resist Chinese 'Bullying' After Corporate Censorship Scandals, Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Singer Denise Ho Says

Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Denise Ho has urged global corporations not to censor themselves, their employees or their customers to please the Chinese government, after a spate of major companies fell foul of Beijing's sensitivity over the protests in Hong Kong.

Speaking to journalists in London on Friday, Ho warned that submitting to Chinese pressure now will only embolden Beijing's opposition of free expression.

Ho is also a singer and actress, who was blacklisted from performing or working in mainland China after her support for the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement. During those protests, she became a prominent figure in the pro-democracy movement and still works as an independent artist.

She told journalists that the Chinese Communist Party's effort to silence all voices of dissent is putting it in a "very difficult situation." Beijing is attempting to portray China as strong and united, but in suppressing opposition "they are only making everyone angrier, and the voices even louder," Ho suggested.

This week's headlines have been full of stories detailing China's campaign to force global companies to toe its line on thorny political issues, be it the protests in Hong Kong, the independence of Taiwan or President Xi Jinping's resemblance to Winnie the Pooh.

This campaign has been going on for years, but this week's furore involving the NBA, Blizzard and South Park has brought it to the fore. As Ho explained, China's zealotry is "only making the international community even more aware of what's happening, not only in Hong Kong but already in the rest of the world."

Ultimately, Ho said the international community must stand up to Chinese totalitarianism, or risk liberal democratic values being eaten away on the world stage.

"When you succumb to this kind of bullying, it's only get worse in the last term," Ho warned. "Now is the time for all these countries—just like Hong Kong people—to stand up against this regime."

Ho said the world must "make them understand that they cannot have it both ways, and they cannot come with their money and their market to destroy the universal values that the rest of the world holds."

The singer added that although the situation on the ground remains difficult, "I'm still quite confident that something good will be coming out of this."

By resisting the Chinese Communist Party, Ho said Hong Kong activists "shown the world that this could be done." The fight over Hong Kong is extremely relevant to the rest of the world, which is already having to fight some of the same battles with Beijing.

"The global community is facing the same problem that Hong Kong is facing," Ho explained. "There is an imbalance between the economic side of things and the integrity of these businesses, and also the freedoms that are being eroded by the Chinese government."

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Hong Kong pro-democracy activist and singer Denise Ho testifies during a hearing before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China September 17, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty Images/Getty