HONG KONG (AP) — Smooth jazz star Kenny G insisted Thursday he's not a foreign provocateur supporting Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests, after Beijing signaled its displeasure over his inharmonious visit and repeated concerns about meddling by external forces.
The American musician created a stir when he tweeted Wednesday about his visit to the semiautonomous southern Chinese city, where thousands of student-led protesters have occupied streets for more than three weeks to press their demands for greater democratic reforms.
"In Hong Kong at the sight of the demonstration. I wish everyone a peaceful and positive conclusion to this situation," he wrote.
He took to social media again later to declare that he was not trying to defy the Chinese government, but rather had just happened to come across the protest zone while walking around Hong Kong as a tourist.
"I am not supporting the demonstrators as I don't really know anything about the situation," he wrote on his Twitter and Facebook accounts. "I only wanted to share my wish for Peace for Hong Kong and for all of China."
Photos had circulated earlier on social media of the star by himself and with protesters at the main protest zone near downtown Hong Kong.
The musician's laidback soprano sax tunes are wildly popular in China, especially his song "Going Home," which can be heard at train stations, department stores, airports, hotel lobbies and over loudspeakers in public parks, and is often used as a signal for people to clear out. He completed a four-concert tour of the country in September.
When asked about the appearance, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying paused and noted Kenny G's popularity — and then warned foreigners not to get involved.
"I think Kenny G's music is popular in China, though regarding the illegal protest in Hong Kong, the Chinese government has a clear position. We think that is an illegal campaign," Hua said.
"We support the government of Hong Kong to handle it in accordance with the law to maintain stability in Hong Kong. Thus we hope all foreign countries and individuals could be discreet in words and deeds and not support the illegal protest in any forms," she said.
Beijing has warned repeatedly that unspecified foreign forces are influencing the protesters in Hong Kong, without spelling out who exactly is involved. Hong Kong's Beijing-backed leader, Leung Chun-ying, has also recently taken up the claims.
Associated Press videojournalist Aritz Parra in Beijing contributed to this report.
Kenny G: https://twitter.com/officialkennyg
Follow Kelvin Chan at https://twitter.com/chanman