Why this picture landed Kenny G in big trouble with China

Why this picture landed Kenny G in big trouble with China

What’s he got to say for himself when he comes up for air?

The Chinese authorities believe an apology is due. The bestselling jazz musician Kenny G has invoked their wrath after making a victory sign and tweeting a message of support for activists in Hong Kong when he dropped in on the protests taking place there this week.

What did he do?

The saxophonist, whose real name is Kenny Gorelick, took to Twitter yesterday to post a picture of himself making a victory sign in front of a poster reading: “Democracy of Hong Kong”.

In a message accompanying the photo, he wrote: “In Hong Kong at the sight [sic] of the demonstration. I wish everyone a peaceful and positive conclusion to this situation.”

China’s foreign ministry, which has voiced its displeasure about what it sees as foreign interference in an internal issue, was not impressed.

All he was saying was give peace a chance…

“Kenny G’s musical works are widely popular in China, but China’s position on the illegal Occupy Central activities in Hong Kong is very clear,” a ministry spokeswoman said yesterday.

“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.

The musician has now deleted his original post and cleared the whole thing up by making a series of statements on his Twitter account:

At least he didn’t subject them to any of his smooth jazz…

While UK critics might deride Kenny G for his penchant for creating unobtrusive elevator music, the 58-year-old hitmaker is tremendously popular in China.

He enjoys superstar status in the Communist state where his 1989 track “Going Home” (above) serves as a widespread signal for closing time everywhere from wedding banquets to train stations. He played four concerts in China last month, including in the capital Beijing.

Kenny G, a cultural icon?

It seems so. “Nobody knows why the Chinese even like Kenny G so much,” the music and entertainment industry consultant Jackie Subeck told the New York Times earlier this year.

Neither is the saxophonist able to shed any light on the Chinese obsession with him. “I don’t ask questions because I like to leave some of the mystery,” he said.

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