BEIJING - The powerful Youth League of China's ruling Communist party has opened a poll on possible sanctions against Hong Kong celebrities who support the city's pro-democracy demonstrators - including boycotts, bans and Internet censorship.
The former British colony's vibrant film and music scenes have made its performers stars on the mainland. But celebrities including actors Chow Yun Fat and Anthony Wong have reportedly praised the protesters, who are labelled as criminals by Beijing.
"Which way would you choose to resist these unscrupulous artists?" the Communist Party's Youth League asked readers of its official microblog, naming several celebrities including Wong.
"Call for 'Occupy Central' artists to be banned from performing or broadcasting in mainland China" read the most popular of the poll's four possible responses.
"Resolutely not watch the works of 'Occupy Central' artists" was in second place.
Occupy Central is one of the main groups organising the pro-democracy protests, but mainland Chinese authorities and media often use the term to refer to the demonstrations generally.
Other options available were "Call for 'Occupy Central' artists' names to be scrubbed from the Internet", and "Delete the 'Occupy Central' artists' microblog accounts".
There was no choice not to take action.
The microblog post singled out Wong by name along with fellow actor Chapman To and singer Denise Ho. The poll had attracted more than 250,000 votes by late Wednesday afternoon.
The Communist Youth League boasts nearly 90 million members, and serves as a training ground for future party officials. Notable alumni include former President Hu Jintao.
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has blamed foreign countries for stirring up the protests, while Beijing has rejected statements by Western governments as "interference" in its internal affairs.
In an unexpected riff on the theme, US jazz saxophonist Kenny G visited one of the protest sites on Wednesday.
"In Hong Kong at the sight (sic) of the demonstration. I wish everyone a peaceful and positive conclusion to this situation," he said on Twitter.
The curly-haired maestro, whose smooth instrumentals are a fixture in Chinese shopping malls, gave a "peace" sign as he stood beside young activists in the city's Admiralty district, pictures posted online showed.
He later tweeted to clarify that he was "not supporting the demonstrators".
"It's unfair that I am being used by anyone to say that I am showing support for the demonstrators," the musician wrote.
"I don't really know anything about the situation and my impromptu visit to the site was just part of an innocent walk around Hong Kong," he added.
"I believe that the musical works of Kenny G are popular in China," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said when asked about his activities.
"We hope that countries around the world, and citizens of those countries, do not support illegal activities of Occupy Central in any form," she added.
Other Western celebrities including long-time activist Mia Farrow and former 'Star Trek' star George Takei have also taken to social media to express support for the pro-democracy movement.
Hong Kong student leaders said Wednesday they may not take part in further talks with the government after accusing city authorities of failing to make any meaningful offer to end weeks of mass rallies.
Leung, in an interview late Monday, said open elections for his successor as demanded by demonstrators would result in the largest sector of society - the city's poor - dominating the electoral process.