The smooth jazz stylings of Kenny G are immensely popular in China thanks to the saxophonist’s song “Going Home” becoming the nation’s unofficial anthem to the end of the workday. However, after wrapping up a brief tour in the Asian nation, the musician visited Hong Kong and spent time with the pro-democracy protestors there. Because Kenny G merely visited the protestors, which gave their cause more visibility, Chinese government officials have now accused the saxophonist of meddling in foreign affairs.
“In Hong Kong at the sight [sic] of the demonstration. I wish everyone a peaceful and positive conclusion to this situation,” the saxophonist tweeted along with a photo of himself at the site making a peace sign with his hand. Protestors, many of them students, have occupied the streets of Hong Kong for over three weeks as they fight for greater democratic reforms in the Chinese city.
The AP reports that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying has downplayed the role of the protests. “I think Kenny G’s music is popular in China, though regarding the illegal protest in Hong Kong, the Chinese government has a clear position. We think that is an illegal campaign,” said Chunying. “We support the government of Hong Kong to handle it in accordance with the law to maintain stability in Hong Kong. Thus we hope all foreign countries and individuals could be discreet in words and deeds and not support the illegal protest in any forms.” Kenny G has not yet commented on the controversial visit, but he is tweeting photos of dim sum.
Back in May, it was revealed that Kenny G’s “Going Home” – unbeknownst to the saxophonist – was played everywhere in China, from shopping malls and schools to train stations and gyms, to mark that it was “quitting time.” The song also accounts for four of the Top 10 most popular videos on Youku, the Chinese equivalent of YouTube. While Kenny G isn’t seeing any extra residuals from the everyday play of “Going Home,” it has helped him cultivate a massive Chinese audience.
UPDATE: In a Facebook post, Kenny G offered up a clarification on his visit to Hong Kong, noting that he was not “trying to defy government orders” and “not supporting the demonstrators as I don’t really know anything about the situation.” His full statement:
“I was not trying to defy government orders with my last post. I was in Hong Kong as a stop on my way to perform at Mission Hills and happened to walk by the protest area as I was walking around Hong Kong as a tourist. Some fans took my picture and it’s unfair that I am being used by anyone to say that I am showing support for the demonstrators.
“I am not supporting the demonstrators as I don’t really know anything about the situation and my impromptu visit to the site was just part of an innocent walk around Hong Kong. I love Hong Kong and always come here to perform when I’m asked to. I love China and love coming here to perform for over 25 years. I only wanted to share my wish for Peace for Hong Kong and for all of China as I feel close to and care about China very much Please don’t mistake my peace sign for any other sign than a sign for Peace.”