Over 50,000 people have signed a petition demanding the Academy Awards Committee to withdraw its invitation to Donnie Yen to present an Oscar due to his support for the Chinese government.
Yen, 59, was among those named last week as a presenter for the 95th Academy Awards, which will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday. Other actors of Asian and Pacific Islander descent announced for the role include Dwayne Johnson, Riz Ahmed and Deepika Padukone.
The Change.org petition claims to have been published by “a group of people from Hong Kong” who believe that the Oscars “should represent respect for human rights and moral values, rather than support for actions that violate them.”
Born in Guangzhou, China, on July 27, 1963, Yen was raised in Hong Kong and first held Hong Kong citizenship from 1963 to 1974. After moving to the U.S. when he was 11 years old, he obtained U.S. citizenship.
However, Yen changed his citizenship back to Hong Kong in 2009 and renounced his American citizenship the following year.
“Since I was very young, I have known there is Chinese blood flowing in my body,” the “Ip Man” star once said, as per South China Morning Post. “I need a sense of belonging. I am now 100% Chinese.”
Yen is an open supporter of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In January, he was announced as a new member of Beijing’s top political advisory committee, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
As a member, Yen has the power to present proposals on projects that shape the nation. Last year, fellow member Jackie Chan — who has reportedly been part of the CPPCC since 2013 — called for publicly funded rural cinemas.
The Change.org petitioners said they “strongly condemn” the Oscars Committee’s decision to invite Yen as a presenter.
Donnie Yen is a supporter of the Chinese Communist regime and has made several remarks in support of the Chinese government’s policies, including supporting the implementation of the National Security Law in Hong Kong and accusing Hong Kong protesters of being rioters. These remarks not only violate the spirit of freedom of speech but also deny the rights of the people of Hong Kong to fight for their freedom and democracy.
Allowing Yen to present at the event “will damage the image and reputation of the film industry and cause serious harm to human rights and moral values,” the petitioners added. They urged the Oscars Committee to ultimately cancel his invitation and “make the Oscars a truly respectful award.”
The petition has amassed 52,256 signatures as of press time. One top comment reads, “He doesn’t stand up for freedom and democracy, which could violate the values of Oscar prizes.”
Yen, for his part, attended two recent CPPCC sessions in Beijing. He said he proposed better policies to attract investment for Chinese action films.
“Chinese action movies are becoming fewer. We need to attract investment and boost demand, so that more filmmakers can develop action movies and make more movies that can become the pride of China,” he told reporters, as per Global Times.