Chow, who was detained earlier this week, has been called the ‘Real Mulan’ by supporters
Agnes Chow, a pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong, has been compared to Mulan – the legendary warrior from Chinese folklore, who fought to save her country – for her role in the city’s democracy movement. The comparison, which has been widely made in memes shared by her supporters, has particularly gained traction since the activist and politician’s arrest earlier this week, on suspicion of breaching a new national security law.
The memes reference both Disney’s live action and animated Mulan adaptations. “Agnes Chow is the real Mulan cos she is loyal, brave & true. She brings honor to us all,” writes one user. The Twitter page “Meme With Hong Kong”, meanwhile, makes reference to Liu Yifei, the actress who played Mulan in Disney’s 2020 film, writing: “Agnes Chow is way more of a Mulan than Liu Yifei ever was.”
Chow’s arrest has also inspired the widespread hashtag #FreeAgnes (Chow was released on bail August 12, but still faces the potential of up to life in jail.)
Here’s what you need to know.
Agnes Chow is way more of a Mulan than Liu Yifei ever was— Meme With Hong Kong (@memew_hongkong) August 11, 2020
And she's definitely braver than all those pretentious celebrities who just post on social media instead of actually doing something for the cost#TheRealMulan#FreeAgnes#BoycottMulan#MEMESpic.twitter.com/Kz3swS3t7A
WHO IS AGNES CHOW?
Agnes Chow is a 23 year old activist who has risen to prominence within Hong Kong’s democracy movement in recent years. She says that she was inspired by young people advocating change when she was 15, and took part in Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Movement” protests in 2014, which called for universal suffrage.
Chow is also a politician, having formed the now-disbanded, pro-democracy youth party Demosisto as a result of the 2014 protests. In 2018, she was disqualified from running in a legislative council election, despite having renounced her British citizenship and deferred her studies in order to stand.
“The ban against me isn’t personal, it’s targeting an entire generation of young people who have a different view from the government,” she told the Guardian in a subsequent interview. “The government only wants young people who will show their affection for China and the Communist party.”
WHY WAS SHE ARRESTED?
Earlier this week (August 10), Chow was arrested alongside other pro-democracy activists for alleged breaches of the new national security law imposed on Hong Kong by China in July. In a tweet, Hong Kong police have additionally claimed that the suspected offences include: “collusion with a foreign country/external elements to endanger national security.”
“I would say that it’s very obvious that the regime and the government are using the national security law to suppress political dissidents,” Chow has said, having been released on bail following backlash in Hong Kong and abroad. Nevertheless, she could still face up to life in jail if convicted, according to the BBC.
Last week, Chow also appeared in court following a June arrest, based on a protest outside police headquarters, and told supporters that she was prepared to serve time in jail.
AND WHY MULAN?
Besides being a fairly obvious comparison for Chow, given her loyalty and heroism, as depicted in popular media such as Disney’s films, Mulan has extra resonance with Hong Kong’s democratic movement right now. Amid the violent clashes between Hong Kong protesters and police, the Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei (aka the star of 2020’s Mulan) expressed her support for the police, and has since been criticised for promoting police brutality.
Needless to say, many protesters have called for a boycott of the Disney film – which has already been delayed due to coronavirus – while Liu Yifei has been placed in contrast with Agnes Chow in recent memes and messages of support for Chow on social media.
In a message posted to Facebook since she was bailed, Chow has thanked her supporters and opened up about the arrest: “Arrested four times, this is the most horrific one,” she writes. “But even in the police station, I can still hear from my lawyers the concern and love that everyone in Hong Kong and overseas has for me. Thank you guys.”
“The road is tough, everyone be careful and take care.”