Cultural critic Alex Pao said even just the posters advertising the upcoming opera could stir things up in Hong Kong. Appearing ahead of September’s Legislative Council elections, where the pro-establishment camp controlled by Beijing will battle Democrats and young localists advocating independence, the posters will further tarnish the image of mainland China among the city’s young people, increasing their desire to break away from Chinese Communist Party rule, he said.

A recent survey conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong revealed that nearly 40% of respondents aged 15 to 24 backed the idea of Hong Kong independence.

The Sunbeam Theatre in Hong Kong, home to Cantonese opera performances.
The Sunbeam Theatre in Hong Kong, home to Cantonese opera performances.
Image: Reuters/Tyrone Siu

“Some young people called for independence of Hong Kong because they do not like China,” Pao said. “They are forced to take that path. And a show like this accompanied by such a poster is a big turn-off. If you want to tell China stories, can it be done in a more decent and elegant manner?”

Claudia Mo, who sits on the Legislative Council and is a founding member of the pro-democracy Civic Party, said the news of Snow being one of the opera’s key roles reminded her of his 1937 book Red Star Over China. That work documented the early days of the then-obscure Chinese Communist Party.

“Now it’s ‘red star over Hong Kong,'” she said. “This seriously signifies the fast-developing trend of mainlandization, lies, corruption, and abuse of power in Hong Kong.”

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