China

Hong Kong 'protest' cake disqualified from UK competition

Cake Image copyright 3rd Space
Image caption The Guy Fawkes mask has been worn by many protesters during anti government rallies

A Hong Kong protest-themed cake has been disqualified from a cake decorating competition in the UK, in a move that has been referred to as "political censorship".

It featured protest symbols including umbrellas and a Guy Fawkes mask.

The company behind the cake told the BBC it believed it was pulled after complaints from Chinese competitors.

But the Birmingham competition organisers said it was because one element of the cake was oversized.

Anti-government protests have been taking place in Hong Kong for five months.

They first erupted in June, triggered by a controversial bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China.

The bill has been withdrawn but the protests have continued, having evolved into a broader revolt against the way Hong Kong is administered by Beijing.

'Obvious it was an excuse'

The cake was one of many displayed this year at the Cake International competition, held in the city of Birmingham from 1- 3 November.

It draws competitors from all over the world.

The entry by a baker from the 3rd Space cafe in Hong Kong included fake tear gas and a figure made to look like a typical protester clad in black and wearing a hard hat.

Image copyright 3rd Space
Image caption A man in a yellow hard hat, carrying an umbrella, was one element of the cake
Image copyright 3rd Space
Image caption The cake also had umbrellas which had fake "tear gas" coming out of them

It was inspired by the "streets [of] Hong Kong", the spokesperson for the cafe told the BBC.

"The design was simply an expression of what is happening at the moment in Hong Kong," the spokesperson added.

A music box placed inside the cake also played "Glory to Hong Kong"- a tune which has been adopted as the unofficial anthem of the protests - on loop.

But according to 3rd Space, Cake International decided to take action after it received numerous "complaints from Chinese candidates", who said the cake featured "offensive content... promoting [the] independence of Hong Kong".

Cake International first decided to turn the music off, before later sending the baker an email telling them that the cake would be "removed", said 3rd space.

Dozens of people later took to Cake International's social media platforms complaining, accusing the organisers of pandering to "censorship".

Cake International later released a statement saying the cake was removed due to complaints, saying that some had threatened to damage the piece.

It clarified that the cake was separately disqualified as one of its elements - a fondant umbrella - had hung over the "allowed area".

"Oversized exhibits will be disqualified. This entry was not removed as a political statement," it said in a Facebook post.

However, 3rd space said: "It is obvious that it was an excuse that they came up [with] to cover their political censorship."

The company said it goes against the principle the competition is meant to uphold to provide an inclusive platform.

Protests in Hong Kong have grown increasingly violent. Over the weekend, five people were injured in a knife attack, and one man had part of his ear bitten off.

The protests have presented a serious challenge to China's leaders, who have painted the demonstrators as dangerous separatists and accused foreign powers of backing them.

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