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China Seizes Toilet Tissue Featuring Likeness Of Hong Kong Leader

Chinese authorities have seized thousands of rolls of toilet paper featuring a likeness of Hong Kong's unpopular chief executive that were destined for restrooms in the former British colony.

The BBC reports:

"Hong Kong's Democratic Party, which had planned to sell the novelty items at a fair next week, called the seizure a violation of freedom of expression.

The [8,000 rolls of] tissues were confiscated from a factory in mainland China on Friday."

Hong Kong's leader, Leung Chun-ying, is appointed by Beijing and many in the Chinese territory view him as a puppet of the mainland authorities. As the BBC notes "products mocking him have sold well in recent years."

The tissues, which the Democratic Party says sold well at Hong Kong's annual Chinese New Year celebration last year, featured variations on Leung's image, including one with the Chinese character for "liar" stamped on its forehead.

The seizure of the items follows months of unrest in Hong Kong as pro-democracy demonstrators have filled the streets to protest Beijing's decision to renege on a promise for open elections for Leung's replacement in 2017.

The Associated Press reports that the authorities gave no reason for confiscating the toilet tissue, valued at $12,900.

"I guess (the Chinese authorities) don't like people mocking government officials, especially high-ranking government officials after the movement. They have become more cautious about criticisms about them," Lo Kin-hei, a vice chairman of the Hong Kong Democratic Party, was quoted by the AP as saying.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.