As demonstrations in Hong Kong intensify, the entertainment world is increasingly feeling the heat. Today, news came that Jackson Wang 王嘉尔, a Hong Kong performing artist who has publicly supported Beijing and has faced intense criticism from those in Hong Kong, would no longer perform at the “Head In The Clouds” music festival this weekend in Los Angeles.
The abrupt announcement was made on the Instagram page of 88Rising, the Asian-centric hip-hop collective that is the event’s main organizer.
“Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, Jackson Wang will no longer be playing Head in the Clouds Festival,” 88Rising wrote in the caption of a blank picture on Instagram roughly three hours ago. “Thank you for supporting Jackson at this time.”
The cancellation is a major blow to the festival, as Jackson Wang — who started his career as a member of the K-pop boy band got7 and has been releasing music for his solo projects as a rapper — was advertised as one of the headliners. The last-minute withdrawal also raised serious questions about whether organizers forced Wang to opt out due to political concerns.
In the past week, Wang, who was born in Hong Kong but has been mostly active in mainland and Korea in recent years, found himself under attack from pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong after he wrote in a Weibo post (in Chinese) on August 4 that he was a “flag bearer” determined to side with China. His political stance provoked a backlash from Hong Kong protesters, who denounced him as a traitor and vowed to mob him at the airport when he returns home.
The threats even prompted China Central Television (CCTV) to issue a warning. “Please stop violent criminal behaviors immediately! You’ll pay a heavy price for being unscrupulous,” the national broadcaster wrote on Weibo. “Please be mindful of safety, Jackson Wang!”
In a sidebar, two members of High Brothers, the Chengdu-based rap foursome who created music under the 88rising label, also have voiced their political opinions regarding the Hong Kong situation. On August 14, Melo 谢宇杰 posted a picture of the Chinese national flag on Instagram, with the caption saying, “Once again. I’m proud i’m a Chinese.” Following Xie, another member, DZknow 丁震, shared the same image a few hours later with a caption written in Chinese, “C’mon show me some 🇨🇳China is No.1🔥”