Hong Kong protests: Protest-themed cake disqualified from international contest in Britain after mainland contestant complains

South China Morning Post

The cake made by a baker from 3rd Space Cafe in Sheung Wan featured symbols of ongoing anti-government protests

South China Morning Post |

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A protest-themed cake was disqualified from an international competition.

A Hong Kong baker’s protest-themed cake was disqualified from an international cake competition in Britain after a contestant from mainland China lodged a complaint about the message it carried.

The baker from 3rd Space Cafe in Sheung Wan received an email on Saturday from Cake International, organiser of the event in Birmingham, in Britain, which said the entry had been removed from the competition area. The Post has seen the email.

“The content and message behind the cake has been viewed as offensive and [it] led to complaints from attendees, therefore the decision has been taken to withdraw it from the competition,” it said.

An employee from the cafe said they were “surprised that the British organiser would give in”.

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“There are many artworks around the world that talk about different social problems or even politics,” he said. The employee said the baker, who did not want to be named, had joined the competition to fulfil her cake art aspirations and to “express her deepest concerns over what happened in her home”.

The giant square cake featured a sugarcrafted black bauhinia, a dozen yellow helmets, umbrellas, and a Guy Fawkes mask – symbols of Hong Kong’s ongoing anti-government protests, which were sparked in June by the now-withdrawn extradition bill. There was also a sugarcrafted protester wearing a black shirt, goggles and a yellow helmet, while an umbrella also featured in the middle of the cake along with the slogan “Five demands, not one less”.

But Cake International cited an entirely different reason on its Facebook page for disqualifying the entry from Hong Kong. It said the cake was “oversized”. It cited the rules of the contest: “No part of the exhibit can overhang the allowed area. Oversized exhibits will be disqualified.”

According to the rules of Cake International on its webpage, all dummy cakes and exhibits must be on a board between 1.27cm and 3.81cm (0.5 to 1.5 inches) in thickness.

The cake featured a sugarcrafted black bauhinia and symbols of Hong Kong’s anti-government protests such as umbrellas, yellow helmets and a mask.
Photo: Handout

The size of the disqualified entry could not be verified by press time. But the organiser’s Facebook post instantly drew sharp reactions from many Hongkongers.

One comment read: “Thank you for allowing China censorship to spread to the whole world." Another said: “If someone is threatening to damage a cake, you … ban them, not ban the cake.”

The cake also drew wide media attention after its removal from the competition. Cake International’s Facebook post addressing the disqualification received nearly 5,000 “angry emoji” responses.

Many people also wrote messages of support on 3rd Space Cafe’s Instagram page, such as: “You are the number one in my heart already.” Another contestant at the event, Chen Yao from Zhejiang province on the mainland, confirmed to the Post that she had filed a complaint with the organiser about the entry from Hong Kong.

The 3rd Space Cafe in Sheung Wan.
Photo: Winson Wong/SCMP

“We are actively asking the organiser to disqualify this item, because whether we win or not, we cannot let this happen,” Chen said in a video clip she posted on popular Chinese social media platform Weibo on Friday.

The 3rd Space entry was disqualified the next morning and withdrawn from display by the afternoon.

Chen told the SCMP the competition should be “purely based on cultural expression and art skills”.

“We can exchange skills, culture and insights. We can have different opinions. But it is unacceptable to allow people with ulterior political motives to create art under the guise of ‘freedom’, ” she said. “National interest is above everything.”

Commenting on it, an employee from 3rd Space said: “I am not surprised that people from mainland China might feel offended as the movement has been named the ‘Hong Kong independence’ movement, though none of the five demands of the Hongkongers has anything to do with that.”