Hong Kong star Wong Hei cut out of Chinese variety show after sharing 'gay Zhou Enlai' story on Facebook

Facebook profile picture of actor Wong Hei.
Facebook profile picture of actor Wong Hei.PHOTO: SIMPLY WONG HEI/FACEBOOK

HONG KONG - Former TVB star Wong Hei was digitally erased from the CCTV variety show Infinite Challenge after he shared on Facebook an article on how Communist China's revered first premier, Zhou Enlai, may have been gay.

In the episode of Chinese state television's adaptation of the South Korean show that aired on Sunday, featuring actors and firefighters, the Hong Kong star was either cut out or his face was pixelated, said Apple Daily.

Wong, who starred as a firefighter in TVB's Burning Flames series, was edited out of CCTV's show after pro-China Taiwan-born singer Huang An reported the actor for "blaspheming against Premier Zhou", said the website of the newspaper.

Wong had shared an Apple Daily article on journalist Tsoi Wing Mui's book, The Secret Emotional Life Of Zhou Enlai, with a comment, "Qu Yuan's descendant". Qu, the ancient Chinese poet whose death is commemorated every Dragon Boat Festival, is another historical figure whose sexual orientation has been the subject of speculation.

Following Huang's report, the Infinite Challenge producers said of Wong: "If we had known, we wouldn't have asked. We would have asked, but not recorded. We would have recorded, but not used. We would have used, but not broadcast."

Infinite Challenge is CCTV's first adaptation of a Korean show. Can Xing, the company of Star China that is behind hits such as The Voice Of China, is producing Infinite Challenge, whose usual cast includes CCTV host Sa Beining, The Voice Of China host Hua Shao and actor Ethan Juan.

A Can Xing publicist said the producers had invited Wong to the shoot of the episode about firefighters because he had played a fireman, reported Apple Daily.

One-third of the shoot had been planned around Wong, but was "cut out in the final cut", the publicist said. As the celebrities were lined up according to height, Sa, who stood next to Wong, also had to be cut out sometimes.

It is not the first time Wong has angered the mainlanders, said Apple Daily. Last year, he triggered a discussion about Hong Kong identity after posting on Facebook an exchange he had with Beijing airport security. When he said "You Chinese", a security officer asked: "Aren't you Chinese?"