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Hong Kong (AFP)

One of Hong Kong’s best-known artists confirmed on Tuesday that he had moved to Taiwan in search of “100% freedom” from the government’s crackdown on dissent.

Kacey Wong’s departure is the latest blow to Hong Kong’s reputation as a regional haven for the arts and freedom of expression as criticism of the government comes under increasing scrutiny by authorities.

Wong, 51, posted a black-and-white video to Facebook in which he sang a rendition of Vera Lynn’s melancholy ode “We’ll Meet Again.”

“Leaving is not easy, staying is also difficult,” he wrote.

In an interview with the Hong Kong Free Press website, Wong confirmed he fled Hong Kong for political reasons, citing the shrinking space for artistic freedom since China imposed a national security law. which criminalizes much of dissent.

The Cornell-trained artist is known for his contemporary visual arts with a focus on social activism and politics.

In a 2018 art piece titled “The Patriot,” Wong performed the Chinese national anthem on an accordion inside a red metal cage.

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Last year, authorities passed new laws prohibiting mocking of the Chinese national anthem or flag, meaning any rehearsal of such a performance would be fraught with risk.

“I want and demand 100% freedom, without compromise,” Wong told the Hong Kong Free Press.

“I’ve always appreciated the culture and art of Taiwan, I think it’s very mature and deep and the society is both sophisticated and raw, which I like,” he added. .

Earlier this year, Wong handed out hundreds of candle stubs during previous vigils marking Beijing’s deadly crackdown on Tiananmen Square after authorities in Hong Kong banned public commemorations.

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The arts have been hit hard by the Security Act, which was introduced to crush dissent after pro-democracy protests two years ago.

All films must now be censored for any content that breaks the law and several books have been taken from shelves.

Cantopop star Anthony Wong Yiu-ming was charged with bribery on Monday for singing at a campaign rally by a pro-democracy politician three years ago.

Two authors of a children’s book comparing democracy supporters to sheep surrounded by wolves were charged with sedition last month.

Despite this, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam insisted that freedom of speech remains intact in the city.

“I would ask you honestly, what kind of freedoms have we lost, what kind of dynamism has Hong Kong been eroded? she said on a radio show late last month.