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UK: Confection showing support for Hong Kong protests disqualified from Birmingham cake contest

Author: Natasha Frost & Jane Li, Quartz, Published on: 6 November 2019

“Censorship of Hong Kong’s protests has spread to a UK cake contest”, 4 November 2019

… Attempts to clamp down on the demonstrators, and their icons, reached risible levels… after an elaborately crafted confection supporting the protests was disqualified from a Cake International decorating competition in Birmingham, England. The creation featured a tiny protester bearing a yellow umbrella and a large confectionary mask. Liquid nitrogen, designed to look like tear gas, swirled from behind the umbrellas.

The work was disqualified on the grounds that “the message behind” it had been “viewed as offensive and led to complaints from attendees,” according to an email posted to social media.

The baker is reportedly connected to the Hong Kong brunch restaurant 3rd Space… according to a Time Out review. In an Instagram story, representatives from the café said they had been “DQ”—disqualified—and accused the competition organizers of hypocrisy.

In a Facebook post, Cake International said that it had received “complaints” about the cake’s content, “with some threatening to damage the piece.” But the cake had been disqualified, it added, for breaking the rules: The tiny umbrellas perched on the edge of it “overhang the allowed area” and are thus oversized. The company denied that it was censoring the cake:

“Cake International is an inclusive community and welcomes entries from across the world, this competition entry was not removed as a political statement but was disqualified as a direct result of it not being made in line with our competition schedule.

We appreciate that this situation is sensitive and there are many passionate views across the world, our decisions are based purely on what is in the best interest for the cake decorating community and not as a statement of our beliefs or opinions.”…

The complainant has since made herself known: Chen Yao, a Chinese competitor, said on the social media platform Weibo that she and four other Chinese women attending the event had reported the cake to the organizer. Chen… said she did the right thing to defend China. “Some people questioned whether I was hurting others’ freedom of speech by doing so. I’d like to say, there is no such a thing as absolute freedom of speech, the freedom needs to be built upon the national interest,” she said…

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