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23 October 2014 Last updated at 12:32

Hong Kong anger after Kenny G tweets then deletes

U.S. jazz musician and saxophonist Kenneth Gorelick, known as Kenny G, performs during a concert in Hong Kong as part of his "Rhythm and Romance" world tour in this 9 May 2008 file photo Kenny G is known for his smooth jazz records which are popular in China

The American jazz musician Kenny G has angered internet commentators in Hong Kong by deleting a social media posting publicising his visit to a pro-democracy protest camp.

He also said in a statement, posted to his Facebook page and official Twitter feed, that he did not support the demonstrators.

Commentators interpret his comments as an effort to avoid a political scandal, which could potentially have cut off access to an extremely large, lucrative market.

The saxophonist, whose real name is Kenny Gorelick, is an unlikely superstar in mainland China.

His smooth jazzy tunes, including the best-selling Songbird and Going Home, are routinely played in airports, hotels and shopping malls.

On Wednesday, the musician paid a visit to the main protest site in the Admiralty district in Hong Kong.

Screenshot of Kenny G's tweet Kenny G has removed this tweet from his Twitter account

Instantly recognisable with a mane of curly hair, he posed for photos with fans and uploaded a smiling selfie to his Twitter feed.

In the photo, he stands in front of protest posters and flashes a peace sign.

He said he wished for "a peaceful and positive conclusion to this situation".

Although he did not directly express approval for the movement, his visit was warmly welcomed and widely shared on social media.

But, hours after the visit was condemned by a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing, the musician deleted the selfie from his Twitter feed.

The Chinese government has characterised the civil disobedience movement as an illegal occupation.

BBC China Blog

The BBC China blog is where our teams across the country will provide a flavour of their latest insights.

We'll focus on the new and newsworthy, but also use our journalists' expertise to shine fresh light on China's remarkable transformations and upheavals.

Most of the posts will be written or filmed by journalists in our main bureau, in Beijing, or in our other bases in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Please let us know what you think and send us your ideas. You can also use #BBCChinablog to keep up to date with our reports via Twitter.

The demonstrators are demanding greater democratic reforms, which they say had been promised by Beijing decades before. China says it has followed Hong Kong law.

In explaining his actions in a subsequent statement, Kenny G said he was not trying to defy the Chinese government.

"Some fans took my picture and it's unfair that I am being used by anyone to say that I am showing support for the demonstrators," he wrote on his Facebook page.

"I am not supporting the demonstrators as I don't really know anything about the situation and my impromptu visit to the site was just part of an innocent walk around Hong Kong."

He added: "I love China and love coming here to perform for over 25 years. I only wanted to share my wish for peace for Hong Kong and for all of China".

Screenshot of Kenny G's tweet Kenny G posted his statement on his Twitter account and his Facebook page

Reacting to his statement, an internet poster named Carmel Lee Barros wrote: "Very disappointing and cowardly of you to offer this pathetic clarity. It comes across as if you are protecting your own capitalistic income and your own brand."

Another commentator called Andy Yip wrote: "Don't worry Kenny. The money from China will keep coming. The jobs from China will keep coming, because you are exactly the type of people they like…people with no souls."

Celebrities, both in China and outside the mainland, do have to pay attention to how they are perceived by the Chinese government in Beijing.

One wrong remark, and they may be banned from performing or appearing in adverts.

Hollywood actress Sharon Stone was forced to apologise after commenting in the wake of the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake that it was "karma" for Chinese policy toward Tibet.

Taiwanese singer Chang Hui-mei, popularly known as A-mei, speaks during a tourism promotional event in Hong Kong, 26 September 2006 Taiwanese singer Chang Hui-mei was banned from performing in China in 2000

Her statement was issued by the cosmetics company Christian Dior, which had been featuring the star in advertisements in China. Her films were also reportedly banned from cinemas in China and Hong Kong.

And in 2000, Taiwanese singer Chang Hui-mei, better known as A-Mei was banned from performing in China after she sang at the inauguration of pro-independence President Chen Shui-bian. The ban was lifted several years later.

Singers Bjork and Bob Dylan have also been periodically banned from performing in mainland China.


China's disappearing pro-HK activists

Police guards stand in a hallway inside the No. 1 Detention Centre during a government guided tour in Beijing on 25 October 2012. Seven activists are currently being held inside Beijing's Number One Police Detention Centre

A small but growing number of people have been placed under police control across the Chinese mainland after expressing support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests.

Just last night, 12 police officers knocked on Ding Weibing's door late at night.

They had come to detain him for his role in organising an artists' gathering last week. Mr Ding and some friends had planned on reading poetry and displaying posters in support of the events in Hong Kong.

'Disturbing the peace'

"I was very scared. It was midnight and there were so many police at my door," Chen Meiling, Mr Ding's wife, told the BBC.

"They were also very loud and rude. They scolded my husband and forced him to squat on the floor while they were questioning him."

The police told the couple to turn off their mobile phones. Police confiscated their computers and a camera memory card before taking Mr Ding away.

"I felt like we had been invaded," she added. "My husband is a decent man who pursued justice. He didn't do anything wrong."

Activists in Guangzhou under "police control" date unknown Some of the activists have been placed under "police control", meaning they have not been charged or placed in formal detention

The BBC has confirmed the names of seven people who are being held inside Beijing's Number One Police Detention Centre in connection with last week's planned gathering.

At least one member of that group, an artist named Wang Zang, has been officially charged with "disturbing the peace and provoking trouble".

Researchers at Amnesty International's Hong Kong office have verified that activists in seven Chinese provinces and regions, including Beijing, Shandong, Anhui and Chongqing, have been placed under police control.

It has not been possible to verify whether these activists have been officially detained, although they disappeared into police custody and have not been seen since.

A protester gets arrested by police in the Mongkok neighbourhood as tensions rise between pro-democracy protesters and pro-Beijing on 3 October 2014 in Hong Kong Protesters were arrested publicly in Hong Kong, but in China some activists were reportedly detained at night and have not been seen since

Twelve activists, including Wang Zang, have been officially charged with "picking quarrels and provoking trouble," though the real number of detainees could be far higher.

"We don't know the extent of this, this could be the tip of the iceberg," says Amnesty International researcher William Nee.

"Quite a few names on this list we don't recognise, so we're worried this could escalate. This could be the start of a new wave of crackdowns on the Chinese mainland.

"Under normal circumstances, if this many people were detained across the country, all for the same reason, this would provoke international and domestic attention, but because of the dramatic events in Hong Kong, this is getting relatively little attention," Mr Nee adds.


BBC blocked from HK event in China

Protesters in central Hong Kong, 1 October 2014 The protests in Hong Kong have inspired some people in mainland China

China's authorities are adamant that Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests must not spread to the Chinese mainland. Our BBC team learned that the hard way, after scores of Beijing police pushed us and confiscated our journalist cards.

The whole incident started with a hasty invitation. A group of 20 artists was planning an event to support the Hong Kong protests, complete with poetry readings and music.

It was a rare chance to meet people who had been inspired by events in Hong Kong, the people who are making Beijing very nervous.

We drove for an hour outside Beijing to a dusty village. As we approached the village centre, where the event was supposed to take place, a large group of police and local Communist Party officials blocked our path.

The police were "doing things" down the street, they told us. "Go away. There is nothing for you here."

No-one smiled.

Man with flag in Beijing on China's 65th National Day, 1 October, 2014 Beijing is determined that the Hong Kong protests are not repeated on the mainland

They asked to see our press cards, the pieces of identification proving we are fully accredited with the government. And we were being watched: the whole interaction was being filmed on hand-held video cameras. All the police also had miniature video cameras pinned to their uniforms.

I questioned the police in Chinese. What had happened to the artists? I asked. The artists had invited us to attend their event. Why wouldn't the police allow us to venture near the village centre?

"The villagers don't want foreigners here," we were told. "You're disrupting their quiet way of life."

After several minutes of arguing, the police screamed at us to leave. We started walking towards our car. Then, one officer grabbed my arm and began pushing me.

BBC China Blog

The BBC China blog is where our teams across the country will provide a flavour of their latest insights.

We'll focus on the new and newsworthy, but also use our journalists' expertise to shine fresh light on China's remarkable transformations and upheavals.

Most of the posts will be written or filmed by journalists in our main bureau, in Beijing, or in our other bases in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Please let us know what you think and send us your ideas. You can also use #BBCChinablog to keep up to date with our reports via Twitter.

"Walk faster!" he yelled, clearly desperate for us to go. We stopped short of the car, asking questions again. As accredited journalists in China, why couldn't we conduct any interviews?

During this confrontation, some of the people watching from the sidelines were approached by police and also dragged away. We never had a chance to talk to them, but it's fair to assume they were the artists we were trying to meet.

Minutes later, our press cards were taken away, preventing us from conducting interviews. We'll have to wait for the Beijing police to call us before we can get them back.

Then the pushing and shoving started again, all the way to our car doors.

I have bruises on my arms from the police, but I'm certain anyone planning an event supporting the Hong Kong protesters can expect much more serious treatment.

We don't know what has happened to the artists. Since we left the village, they haven't answered our calls.


Tohti's daughter speaks out

Jewher Ilham, daughter of Ilham Tohti, a prominent Uighur academic who was recently arrested by China, testifies at the Congressional-Executive Commission on China on Capitol Hill in Washington on 8 April 2014. Jewher Ilham, Tohti's daughter, gave a testimony about her father's situation to US officials in April

The court's decision - life behind bars - came as a shock to Ilham Tohti's family: his wife, two young sons, and his 20-year-old daughter, Jewher. Her father's lawyer had warned her about the verdict.

"He told me that it's possible they will give him a life sentence, but I didn't believe that, because I didn't think the government is going to do such a cruel thing. I was very angry," Ms Ilham told the BBC by phone from her US home in Bloomington, Indiana.

A Chinese court found the prominent academic guilty of separatism and inciting violence.

BBC China Blog

The BBC China blog is where our teams across the country will provide a flavour of their latest insights.

We'll focus on the new and newsworthy, but also use our journalists' expertise to shine fresh light on China's remarkable transformations and upheavals.

Most of the posts will be written or filmed by journalists in our main bureau, in Beijing, or in our other bases in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Please let us know what you think and send us your ideas. You can also use #BBCChinablog to keep up to date with our reports via Twitter.

Ilham Tohti is a member of the Uighur ethnic minority group and was a vocal critic of the Chinese government's treatment of Uighurs living in the far western region of Xinjiang. Human rights groups and several governments, including the United States and the EU, criticised the verdict, pointing to his long-standing public record as a political moderate.

Records from the trial have not been released, but China's state media say Tohti encouraged Uighurs to use violence, delivering lectures that contained "separatist thoughts".

"From what I have witnessed, my father has always advocated peace," Jewher explains. "He's been critical of the flaws of both the Uighurs and the Hans and the problems of the policy.

"It's everyone's right to speak about the problems of the policy. Legally speaking, we are granted the freedom of speech. My father didn't cross the line."

'No extremist'

Jewher describes herself as a "child" when first arriving in the United States. She was meant to accompany her father as he took up a year-long teaching position at Indiana University. At the airport, Mr Tohti was barred from leaving the country and Jewher had to travel to the United States alone.

In the past year, she's been forced to step into a role as a defender of her father's reputation. She's determined to dispel illusions he is an extremist.

Ilham Tohti in Beijing on 12 June 2010. Uighur academic Ilham Tohti has denied his separatism charges

"I didn't choose this life for myself," she says. "(But) I don't want to just sit there and cry. I'm the oldest child of my family. I will keep standing up and speak for my father. I will try any way and find anyone to try and help my family."

Following Uighur custom, she uses her father's first name, Ilham, as her family name, meaning she is literally named, Jewher, daughter of Ilham. It's a position she takes very seriously.

Ms Ilham has already spoken in front of the US Congress about the rough treatment her father has received at the hands of the Chinese authorities.

'Why shackle him?'

This week, the university student is consumed with worries about her family in Beijing. The court has vowed to confiscate all of Ilham Tohti's assets, potentially leaving Jewher's stepmother and two young brothers without a place to live.

"My brother is having heart problems because of my father's situation and we were going to sell the family car to pay for his medical costs," she says.

"But we had to reconsider that plan, because we don't even know where the family might be living soon, not to mention curing my brother."

Jewher is also having sleepless nights, worrying about her father's condition.

"Autumn in Urumqi is very cold and they won't allow my father to wear the clothes we sent him," she says. "He has shackles on his hands and feet. My father is not a murderer. Why shackle him?"

"He wasn't even allowed to keep a photo of the family. He was very upset because he loves us."

Ilham Tohti has vowed to launch an appeal, though few, including his daughter, have any hope his life sentence will be overturned.


About this Blog:

Welcome to the BBC China blog, where our teams across the country will be updating you with their latest insights.

The idea is to focus on the new and newsworthy, but also to use our journalists’ expertise to shine fresh light on China’s remarkable transformation and the upheaval it is bringing to millions of lives.

We also hope the blog will offer a new dimension to our coverage, allowing us to explore stories and themes which we cannot easily get to in our usual news stories and features.

Most of the posts will be written or filmed by journalists in our main bureau, in Beijing, or in our other bureaus in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Please let us know what you think, and which subjects you would be interested to know more about. You can also use #BBCChinablog to keep up to date with our reports via Twitter.

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