Denise Ho: The Star Singer Who Fought for Hong Kong Democracy (Director Sue Williams)

I wrote this article in Japanese and translated it into English using ChatGPT. I also used ChatGPT to create the English article title. I did my best to correct any translation mistakes, but please let me know if you find any errors. By the way, I did not use ChatGPT when writing the Japanese article. The entire article was written from scratch by me, Saikawa Goto.



Movies and books covered in this article

(Click This Image to Go Directly to the Amazon Prime Video Movie “Denise Ho: Becoming the Song”: Image from

I will write an article about this movie/book

Three takeaways from this article

  1. Denise Ho, a singer who was arrested for participating in the “Umbrella movement” in 2014 and can no longer perform in China.
  2. She aspired to be a singer by admiring a famous star in Hong Kong and became involved in social activism.
  3. We must never tolerate disorder that tramples on the law and human rights.

I want to be a person who can show the bravery like her when I get into a situation where I have to stand up.

Self-introduction article

Please refer to the self-introduction article above to learn about the person writing this article. Be sure to check out the Kindle book linked below as well.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

The quotes used in this article are based on notes taken at the movie theater from movies in Japanese and are not direct quotes from the foreign language original movies, even if they exist.

Why did Hong Kong’s Popular Singer Denise Ho Become a Symbol of the Hong Kong Democracy Movement?

In Japan, when the Hong Kong democracy movement is covered, Agnes Chow Ting is often the center of attention. Of course, Agnes Chow Ting is also an important figure for the people of Hong Kong. However, there was a person in Hong Kong who was widely known as a leader of the democracy movement before Agnes Chow Ting.

That is Denise Ho, the star of Hong Kong pop music. I didn’t know anything about her until I watched this movie.

Why was Denise Ho Arrested and Moved to Canada?

Denise Ho participated in the so-called “Umbrella movement” in 2014. It was a democratization demand demonstration that lasted for 79 days from September 28th. Students and citizens occupied the downtown area to protest against a certain decision made by the Chinese central government. They were called the “Umbrella Movement” because they used umbrellas to protect themselves from tear gas and tear gas.

Denise Ho supported the students who occupied the downtown area, joined the demonstration at the forefront, and was ultimately arrested. She has lost so much because of this influence.

Since 2003, Hong Kong stars have begun to earn revenue from China. She also did the same and when she made a full-fledged entry into China, she was in a situation where she was blessed with tie-ups with global companies, and it seems that she could “easily earn money.”

However, by participating in the “Umbrella movement” protesting against the Chinese central government, Denise Ho became unable to work in China. She lost 90% of her income. In particular, the global cosmetics maker “LANCOME” had a significant impact. They had been sponsoring her live performances, but perhaps due to “pressure” from China, they withdrew their sponsorship. This incident shocked the citizens of Hong Kong and brought about a feeling of despair as follow.

Even world-famous companies succumb to “pressure” from China.

In 2016, Denise Ho planned to hold a live performance by recruiting small sponsors. She thought it would be enough to have about 50 sponsors, but in the end, she had over 300 sponsors and raised more money than the live performances sponsored by major companies. However, she hasn’t held a live performance in Hong Kong since then. It seems that she had to give up due to the lack of prospects for holding one. Because of this situation, she decided to move her base to Montreal, Canada, which is her second home and where her parents also live.

So, why do her parents live in Montreal?

A Pop star “Re-Imported” from Montreal, Canada to Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s return to China was agreed upon in 1984 and took place in 1997. It is said that Hong Kong citizens were greatly disappointed by this decision. On the day of the return, it seemed to have been raining in Hong Kong, and the citizens were said to have lamented upon seeing the rain, saying,

The heavens are crying for Hong Kong.

At the time when the return to China was agreed upon, a “movement demanding direct elections” was taking place in Hong Kong. They did not want to give up their freedom that they had until then. It’s only natural. Then, immediately after the return, the Tiananmen Square protests occurred in China. Hong Kong citizens watched with bated breath as events unfolded. They believed that the future of Hong Kong would be decided by how the Communist Party reacted to the citizens’ movements towards democratization.

As everyone knows, the military indiscriminately shot and killed citizens and carried out thorough oppression. It was only natural to think that the same thing could happen in Hong Kong. As a result, Hong Kong citizens were forced to choose between “continuing to live in Hong Kong” or “emigrating.”

As a result, Denise Ho’s parents chose to emigrate to Montreal.

She was born and raised there, and has said,

Without my life in Montreal, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I learned to respect individuals and enhance values here.

There are several turning points in Denise Ho’s life before she became an activist, and being born and raised in Montreal is one of the biggest.

And so, she returned to her roots in Hong Kong and decided to pursue a career as a singer. Then how did Denise Ho become an activist who stands up to China head-on?

Denise Ho’s Activist Journey

She, back in Hong Kong, had a role model. Anita Mui, a big star who could be said to be a pioneer of Hong Kong pop music. Denise Ho, who admired her, went through various experiences and eventually joined Anita’s tour as her disciple to gain experience.

Anita Mui, a big star at the time, was a rare artist who was heavily involved in social activism. It can be said that Denise Ho’s admiration for such a person and her firsthand experience of her activities were a very significant turning point for her.

After that, Denise Ho gradually gained popularity in Hong Kong and eventually became a star in her own right. Naturally, Denise Ho also wanted to focus on social activism like Anita. However, despite trying to move forward with her own ideas, things didn’t go as smoothly as she had hoped. She continued to struggle with frustration until she eventually fell into a depressive state.

At that time, Denise Ho learned about the existence of an artist who was a unique presence singing songs that incorporated social issues into his lyrics and who also openly declared himself as a homosexual.

Upon discovering his existence, Denise began to question whether it was acceptable to sing only about love and oneself. Furthermore, an event occurred that sealed her determination: the bill regarding “homosexuality” presented in the Hong Kong Legislative Council was rejected.

After the bill about same-sex marriage was rejected, Denise Ho realized she had no choice but to take action. She made the decision to stand up for herself and publicly announced that she is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

Her coming out had a much greater impact than she could have imagined and revitalized Hong Kong’s gay community. As a result of her coming out, she became even more aware of her role as someone who leads the way for everyone in Hong Kong.

And eventually that determination would lead to the protests in the “Umbrella Movement”.

A Determination to Confront a Society that Ignores Laws and Human Rights

In the movie, Denise Ho, who eventually gave a speech at the United Nations, talks about why Hong Kong citizens stood up.

As foreigners, we generally understand that the democracy movement in Hong Kong opposes the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation. I also had that understanding. Indeed, that is right as a matter of fact. The 2014 “Umbrella movement” was triggered by China’s increasing intervention in Hong Kong’s elections, but the protests became even larger because of the “Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation.”

However, Hong Kong citizens are not resisting specific issues such as the “Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation.” They are opposed to the ways of a large country that disregards laws and human rights.

Hong Kong was supposed to be governed under the principle of “One country, two systems” for at least 50 years after its return to China in 1997. This meant that even though Hong Kong was part of China, it would have a separate set of rules for social life. However, China has broken this promise and is trying to impose its own rules on Hong Kong.

That is why Hong Kong citizens are raising their voices against China’s disregard for law and human rights.

We are living in a reality where the great power Russia has invaded Ukraine. It can be said that this is also a reckless act that ignores law and human rights. Japan is also facing a reality where law and order are being neglected, such as North Korea’s missile launches and territorial disputes with countries such as China, South Korea, and Russia.

I think we should be aware that what is happening in Hong Kong and Ukraine could also happen in Japan. In that case, could we oppose such actions with a resolute attitude, like the citizens of Hong Kong and Ukraine who are standing up against the disregard for law and human rights?

This situation made me think again about what actions I could take if I were in a similar situation.


Denise Ho still participates in the annual protests held in Hong Kong every July. The reason is that Hong Kong is the only place “within China” where large-scale demonstrations and marches are allowed.

I don’t actively follow the news in Hong Kong, but since the arrest of Agnes Chow Ting, I feel like there has been a decrease in coverage of the Hong Kong democracy movement. Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it was rare for Hong Kong to be discussed on TV news programs.

I don’t know what’s happening in Hong Kong right now. But there’s no way that the relationship with China has improved. The situation there must still be tough.

We need to think carefully about what we can do in such a world.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

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