Hong Kong protests: China's Communist body ponders sanctions against pro-protest celebs

An art installation made from wood and paper depict the scene of Occupy Central protesters holding up their umbrellas outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Oct 20, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
An art installation made from wood and paper depict the scene of Occupy Central protesters holding up their umbrellas outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Oct 20, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - The powerful Youth League of China's ruling Communist party has opened a poll on possible sanctions against Hong Kong celebrities who support the city's pro-democracy demonstrators - including boycotts, bans and Internet censorship.

The former British colony's vibrant film and music scenes have made its performers stars on the Chinese mainland. But celebrities including actors Chow Yun Fat and Anthony Wong have reportedly praised the protesters, who are labelled as criminals by Beijing.

"Which way would you choose to resist these unscrupulous artists?" the Communist Party's Youth League asked readers of its official microblog, naming several celebrities including Wong. "Call for 'Occupy Central' artists to be banned from performing or broadcasting in mainland China," read the most popular of the poll's four possible responses.

"Call for 'Occupy Central' artists' names to be scrubbed from the Internet," was in second place.

Occupy Central is one of the main groups organising the pro-democracy protests, but China's authorities and media often use the term to refer to the demonstrations generally.

The less harsh options available were "Delete the 'Occupy Central' artists' microblog accounts" and "Resolutely not watch the works of 'Occupy Central' artists".

There was no option not to take action.

The microblog post singled out Wong by name, along with fellow actor Chapman To and singer Denise Ho. The poll had attracted more than 200,000 votes by Wednesday afternoon.

The Communist Youth League boasts nearly 90 million members, and serves as a training ground for future party officials. Notable alumni include former president Hu Jintao.

Hong Kong student leaders said on Wednesday they may not take part in further talks with the government after accusing the city's authorities of failing to make any meaningful offer to end weeks of mass rallies.

Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying, in an interview late on Monday, said open elections for his successor as demanded by demonstrators would result in the largest sector of society - the city's poor - dominating the electoral process.