Cosmetics giant Lancôme showed “wisdom” in cancelling a Hong Kong concert featuring a local activist, a nationalistic Chinese paper said Tuesday, warning that political disagreements with the mainland made for bad business.
The French company faced an online firestorm after axing a promotional concert that was to feature pop singer Denise Ho, a Hong Kong activist who has expressed support for Tibet and been critical of China.
It announced late Sunday that it had abandoned the June 19 gig for “possible safety reasons”, sparking anger and boycott threats from Hong Kong netizens.
The Global Times — a newspaper known for its nationalistic rhetoric — scoffed at the explanation, writing in an editorial: “the real reason is self-explanatory”.
“Apparently Lancôme has given more consideration to the sentiment of the mainland public, because the mainland boasts a much larger market than Hong Kong,” it said.
“As a commercial company, it is bound to seek commercial gains, a wisdom it is supposed to have under complex situations,” the statement added.
Mainland consumers, it continued, have realised how to wield their influence to push their political agendas and will increasingly shun companies with ties to celebrities who “tarnish China’s image”.
Businesses hoping to profit from the country “must not harm China’s national interests, no matter if they are in or outside China,” it concluded.
The cancellation followed criticism of the company by the Global Times, a series of events that many in Hong Kong saw as more than a coincidence.
Some threatened to boycott the company on social media.
On Saturday, the paper said on social media that Lancôme was cooperating with a “Hong Kong poison” and a “Tibet poison” – a reference to Ho’s praise for the Dalai Lama.
Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” agreement and enjoys greater liberties than the mainland.
But there are growing fears its freedoms and semi-autonomous status are being eroded as Beijing tightens its grip.