Canto-pop star Denise Ho Wan-sze has urged cosmetics giant Lancome to explain why a promotional concert was cancelled after mainland internet users criticised her for her political stance. The company had invited Ho to host a mini-concert at a promotion event in Sheung Wan on June 19. The event, which was free of charge, was fully booked. Lancome scraps Hong Kong concert with Denise Ho: online backlash over move to distance itself from pro-democracy star But a day after Beijing newspaper Global Times accused Lancome on Weibo for inviting “Ho – a Hong Kong and Tibet independence advocate – to promote their products”, Lancome clarified on Sunday that Ho was not the brand’s spokeswoman and called off the concert, citing “possible safety reasons”. The incident highlighted the Hong Kong market’s relative insignificance in the cosmetics industry compared with the mainland. A pro-business lawmaker also said it showed international investors could be discouraged from doing business in Hong Kong if it remained politically divided. Ho is well-known for her pro-democracy stance. She was blacklisted by mainland media along with singer Anthony Wong Yiu-ming and actor Anthony Wong Chau-sang, who also support democracy. Ho issued a statement on Facebook on Monday afternoon, criticising Lancome for “seriously misleading the public and tarnishing my personal reputation” with their statements on Sunday. Canto-pop star Denise Ho vows to fight on for democracy despite mainland backlash “I understood that the decision was made by the brand’s head office in France, and I urge it to come clean on the decision, to clear my name and give the public a reasonable explanation,” she said. “The world’s values have been seriously twisted when we face punishment for seeking freedom, justice and equality, and we must face the problem when an international brand like Lancome is kneeling down in the face of this bullying hegemony,” she said. A spokeswoman for L’Oreal Hong Kong, which supervises the Lancome brand as well as Shu Uemura, Kiehl’s and the Body Shop , said the company “has nothing to add”. Listerine, of whom Ho is a spokeswoman, did not respond to the Post ’s inquiries on Monday. Joseph Ho Shiu-chung, president of the Cosmetic and Perfumery Association of Hong Kong, said that mainland tourists usually accounted for 60 per cent of business for cosmetics brands in Hong Kong in recent years, while local customers took 40 per cent. “The incident showed that many mainland people misunderstood the views of some Hongkongers ... and businesspeople have to be cautious, especially on social media,” he said. Felix Chung Kwok-pan, chairman of the pro-business Liberal Party, said the controversy showed that foreign investors could be discouraged from doing business in Hong Kong if their decisions could be slammed by critics from both sides of the political spectrum. Canto-pop star Denise Ho meets Dalai Lama “When companies think of where to invest ... they could go to Singapore or stay on the mainland, as it could be more stable there,” Chung said. According to L’Oreal’s annual report last year, the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 36 per cent of the global cosmetics market. L’Oreal described Hong Kong as “a difficult market”, and while China was “a new market” that experienced a slowdown last year, the group’s e-commerce platform and Lancome “performed strongly” there. The group also runs a research and innovation centre in Shanghai. L’Oreal Paris could not be reached for comment. The storm surrounding Lancome and Ho erupted on Saturday after mainland newspaper Global Times said on Weibo: “We have received tip-offs from netizens that Listerine and Lancome, both popular brands on the mainland, have recently invited Denise Ho – a Hong Kong and Tibet independence advocate – to promote their products.” It was referring to Ho’s meeting with the Dalai Lama on her birthday last month. On May 13, Ho posted pictures of herself and Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader on her Facebook page, writing: “He is a sublime venerable; a loving grandpa,” she wrote. The newspaper’s post prompted a barrage of criticism against Lancome, while some internet users from the mainland criticised Ho on her Facebook page. One of them, Luo Xuan, said: “I don’t want to spend a dime on separating my country.” On Sunday, Lancome clarified on Facebook that Ho was not the brand’s spokesperson, and announced that the concert had been cancelled, citing “possible safety reasons”. Many internet users, apparently from Hong Kong, called on others to boycott Lancome products. Internet user Maria Wong wrote: “If u think there is an issue about the safety in HK. Go merchandise somewhere else but HK. Leave Hong Kong market.” . . .