Photo from Daily Mail

HONG KONG: Supporters of the Hong Kong protests called for a boycott of Disney’s coming “Mulan” remake after its star, Liu Yifei, said she supported the city’s police, who have been criticised for their use of force against demonstrators.

Liu this week reposted an image on Weibo, a Chinese social network similar to Twitter, that took the police’s side. The image she shared was originally published by People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper.

“I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now,” the post read in Chinese — quoting a statement made by Fu Guohao, a reporter for a state-run Chinese newspaper, to protesters who tied him up and attacked him during a demonstration at the Hong Kong airport Tuesday night.

“What a shame for Hong Kong,” the post continued in English. Liu, who is Chinese-American, added her own commentary in Chinese: “I support the Hong Kong police, too.”

Since Fu was assaulted, his words have become a nationalist meme in China — driven in part by the state-run media, which have depicted the pro-democracy protesters as violent radicals and given little coverage to their grievances, or to international criticism of the city’s police.

Demonstrators apologised Wednesday for their behavior at the airport, where they disrupted operations for two days. They said the police’s recent use of undercover officers to infiltrate their ranks had made them fearful.

Disney’s live-action remake of “Mulan,” its 1998 animated hit about a Chinese girl who disguises herself as a man to fight in a war, is set to be released next year. While comments on Weibo, a tightly controlled network popular in China, fully supported Liu and the Hong Kong police, her post prompted a #BoycottMulan hashtag on Twitter, which is blocked in China.

Since the protests in Hong Kong began more than two months ago, the police’s conduct has become a central issue for the demonstrators. The police have routinely used batons, pepper spray, rubber bullets and tear gas against protesters, some of whom have also regularly engaged in violence against them. The police have also been accused of allowing an armed mob to attack protesters and bystanders at a train station last month.

Several international organisations, including the UN human rights office, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned the police’s conduct, including their use of tear gas in a train station last weekend, and have echoed demonstrators’ calls for an independent investigation.

But praising the Hong Kong police makes for good politics in China, where Liu has found a large audience. Entertainers who depend on the Chinese market tend to stay away from politics or support the government’s view. China has a history of blacklisting entertainers who have made contentious political statements, including some who have supported Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. - New York Times