Fri, 07 May 2021

Hong Kong cultural district director quits

16 Apr 2021, 02:56 GMT+10

Hong Kong, April 15 (ANI): Amid fresh attacks from a pro-Beijing camp, Alison Friedman, the artistic director of performing arts at the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) in Hong Kong, has resigned from her post to return to her home country, the United States.

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Friedman has spent her entire working life in China and said that her move to resign is prompted by the need to be close to her ageing parents. She has spent 15 years in Beijing before becoming the WKCD's first artistic director of the performing arts under then-executive director Louis Yu Kwok-lit.

Her departure comes at a time when WKCD's museum named M+ is under fresh attacks from pro-Beijing institutions. Two of the state-owned newspapers have alleged that the museum's collection could 'incite hatred' for China and risk violation of the draconian national security law imposed last year.

The newspapers blamed 'Western-led' management under museum director Suhanya Raffel, an Australian national born in Sri Lanka, for what they deem to be inappropriate inclusion of such works in the museum, reported SCMP.

Friedman's appointment in 2017 also led to criticism from several people. Liza Wang Ming-chun, as chairwoman of Cantonese opera performers' group Barwo, said she was "extremely disappointed" when the job, which includes oversight of the Xiqu Centre, the district's Chinese opera centre, was given to an American.

"I wasn't targeting her race. I was merely pointing out that the government has a habit of hiring foreigners for senior positions without giving local candidates a chance. I was also outraged by the fact that she was given oversight of the Xiqu Centre after Yu had promised to install a Chinese artistic director who knew Cantonese opera," she told SCMP on Tuesday.

The WKCD has seen a number of non-Chinese senior directors leave in quick succession from 2019-20: development director Julian Marland, commercial director Christian Wright, head of technical development Paul Hennig, and finally, the chief executive officer of the entire district, Duncan Pescod.

China had imposed the draconian National Security Law in Hong Kong last year. The law criminalises secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces and carries with it strict prison terms. It came into effect from July 1. Since then, a number of former pro-democracy lawmakers have been arrested.

These actions have raised fears among the people that it was rejecting the 'one country, two systems' concept which the city was promised when it was transferred from British to Chinese control in 1997, says Taiwan Times. The law remains China's most aggressive assault on Hong Kong's freedom till now. (ANI)

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