U.S. jazz musician Kenny G has a special place in China, where his song «Going Home» lives on as the theme to, well, getting crowds to go home. From shops to schools, the four-minute solo is a megahit in the country.
So when the saxophonist posted a photo of himself to Twitter on Wednesday at a pro-democracy demonstration in Hong Kong, where protesters are lobbying for less political influence from Beijing in selecting the territory’s leadership, the irony of Kenny G’s presence was not lost on reform supporters.
In the photo, Kenny G, whose full name is Kenneth Gorelick, holds two fingers up in a «V» peace sign as he stands in front of a protest banner that reads in part «Democracy of Hong Kong by Hong Kong.»
«In Hong Kong at the sight of the demonstration. I wish everyone a peaceful and positive conclusion to this situation,» he wrote on his official Twitter account.
The pro-democracy group Global Solidarity HK shared the musician’s photo with its more than 3,600 followers on Twitter, adding the comment: «‘Going Home?’ Not without Civil Nomination.»
Fans thanked the musician on the social media site and asked that he not let Hong Kong police use the song to disperse the crowds that have held constant rallies in the city’s streets for more than three weeks.
But China’s foreign ministry sang a different tune.
Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that while Kenny G’s music is «widely popular in China… China’s position on the illegal Occupy Central activities in Hong Kong is very clear.»
«We hope that foreign governments and individuals speak and act cautiously and not support the Occupy Central and other illegal activities in any form,» she added.
Kenny G played four concerts in China last month, including in the capital Beijing.
While the country has allowed foreign performers like the Rolling Stones to play in recent years, it has also reacted strongly to those who share dissenting opinions.
In 2008, Icelandic singer Bjork made a pro-Tibet statement during a Shanghai concert, triggering a crackdown on foreign musicians.