Celebrities Vow to Give up Foreign Passports to Remain in China Market

Hong Kong-born actor Nicholas Tse and singer and actress Maria Cordero say they will renounce their foreign citizenship.
By Lau Siu Feng
Celebrities Vow to Give up Foreign Passports to Remain in China Market Flle photo of actor Nicholas Tse on the red carpet of the Hong Kong Film Awards, the Hong Kong equivalent to the Oscars and the British BAFTAS.

Two artists who have a huge following in China have announced they will give up their existing nationalities in order to be Chinese citizens, amid a widening purge on celebrity culture by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Action film actor Nicholas Tse, who was born in Hong Kong, told state broadcaster CCTV on Sunday saying he is in the process of renouncing his Canadian citizenship, amid rumors that a slew of household names in China are under pressure to do the same.

In a video clip from the CCTV6 show The Blue Feather Lounge, Tse, who has held dual citizenship since his parents moved to Vancouver in 1987, is seen saying that he feels he has a "sense of responsibility" to spread Chinese culture around the world.

"I was born in Hong Kong, so I am originally Chinese," he said. "Actually, I have started the application process to renounce my Canadian citizenship."

Rumors have been circulating on Chinese social media platforms since last week that the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) has listed seven top celebrities, of whom Tse is one, who hold foreign citizenship but were born in Hong Kong or China.

According to unconfirmed reports, the list also includes Jet Li, Zhang Tielin, Crystal Liu, Will Pan, Wang Lee Hom and Mark Chao.

An official who answered the phone at SARFT on Monday told RFA to search for "the relevant laws and regulations" online, but no rules pertaining to celebrity nationalities were visible on its official website at that time.

Crackdown on celebrity culture

Meanwhile, singer, actress and broadcaster Maria Cordero, nicknamed Fat Mama, said she would likely renounce her Portuguese citizenship too.

"If you really want to get work in mainland China, then it's the right thing to do," Cordero told RFA. "If you work there, you should take Chinese citizenship. I have no problem with that."

She said she was aware of the reports that Tse is renouncing his Canadian citizenship.

"I think they are all going to be doing this, one after another," Cordero said. "Unless they decide that they don't want to make that kind of money any more."

Tse's move comes amid a widening clampdown on celebrity culture under CCP general secretary Xi Jinping, with a slew of new regulations coming out of Beijing in recent weeks, targeting "unruly" fan behavior, "sissy" male stars, and warnings that celebrities who don't display the correct attitude to China will no longer be welcome in its increasingly state-controlled markets.

The SARFT recently banned stars with "incorrect political positions," unethical behavior and "effeminate" male styles from television shows and movies, after a string of scandals involving sexual assault, tax evasion and behavior deemed "unpatriotic" by the CCP.

Artists who are "alienated from the CCP and China," were among the categories banned from appearing in films and TV shows, alongside those who "breach standards of social equity" or those who "violate public order and ethics."

The administration also banned TV talent shows, which have been linked to the use of social media to get fans to spend money to boost the ratings of their favorite candidates.

The SARFT also hit out at "effeminate" male styles as well as shows built around scandals, ostentatious wealth and "vulgar" internet celebrities. It warned broadcasters that they should focus on building "positive energy" instead.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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