Hong Kong actor Law Kar-ying apologizes for crying and praising the late Queen Elizabeth

A veteran Hong Kong opera star apologized and declared his patriotism on Thursday September 15 after his praise for Britain’s late Queen Elizabeth II sparked a backlash among nationalists in China.

Thousands of Hong Kong residents lined up outside the city’s British consulate this week to sign a book of condolences for the late monarch who died after 70 years on the throne.

Among the mourners was Law Kar-ying, a heavyweight in the Cantonese opera scene, who posted a selfie on Instagram from the queue and a message that read: “Hong Kong was a blessed land during his reign “.

Instagram is banned in mainland China, but Law’s post went viral on other social media sites, sparking anger and criticism among nationalists.

On Thursday, Law took to China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo to post a video apologizing for “thoughtlessly making grieving remarks.”

“My original intention was to express my condolences for a deceased elderly woman and I would like to appeal to everyone not to interpret what I said too much,” the 75-year-old said in Mandarin Chinese.

“I can’t forget my origin and ancestry. The fact that I kept a Chinese passport says a lot, I’m Chinese and I love my homeland forever. I’m sorry,” he added.

His original Instagram post has been deleted.

Hong Kong was a British colony for more than 150 years and while the financial center was returned to China in 1997, the past is etched into its landscape, from street names and the ubiquity of English to the system common law legal.

While other former colonies have seen more muted reactions to Elizabeth II’s death, around 6,700 Hong Kong residents, including some government officials, have so far signed the consulate’s book of condolences.

Queues snaked through the business district and took up to four hours.

Many mourners have expressed nostalgia for the city’s colonial past at a time when China seeks to purge dissent after huge democratic protests three years ago.

Ta Kungpao, a Hong Kong newspaper that responds to the local liaison office in Beijing, published a comment on Tuesday accusing “anti-Chinese elements and anti-Chinese media” of “whitewashing the colonial regime” by encouraging mourning for Elizabeth II.

Nationalism surged under President Xi Jinping, China’s most assertive and authoritative leader in a generation.

Celebrities and companies can face huge consumer backlash for any perceived affront to China or suggestion of disloyalty.

Many commenters under Law’s Weibo video weren’t convinced by his apology.

Some told him to “learn from his wife” Liza Wang, a veteran actress who was Hong Kong’s delegate to China’s top political advisory body for two decades. -AFP