A Hong Kong protest-themed cake got a frosty reception in the UK, where it was disqualified from a cake-decorating competition for being “offensive” — sparking cries of political censorship, according to reports.
The entry from the 3rd Space café in Hong Kong featured several symbols synonymous with the pro-democracy demonstrations that have roiled the former British colony for the past five months, according to the Telegraph.
The cake displayed at the Cake International competition in Birmingham this weekend included umbrellas, a Guy Fawkes mask, yellow helmets and dry ice to depict tear gas.
Also adorning the cake was a figure made to look like a typical protester dressed in black. A music box placed inside the cake also played “Glory to Hong Kong,” an unofficial anthem of the demonstrations.
“The design was simply an expression of what is happening at the moment in Hong Kong,” a spokesperson for the baker told the BBC.
Cake International decided to take action after it received complaints from Chinese competitors who said the cake featured “offensive content… promoting [the] independence of Hong Kong,” the rep said.
But event organizers said the reason the cake was disqualified was because one of its elements – a fondant umbrella — was too large.
“Oversized exhibits will be disqualified. This entry was not removed as a political statement,” Cake International said in a Facebook post.
The organizer first decided to turn off the music before informing the baker in an email that the cake would be “removed,” according to 3rd Space.
Dozens of people later took to social media and accused Cake International of pandering to “censorship.”
Cake International, which describes itself as “an inclusive platform,” later released a statement acknowledging that the cake was removed because of complaints, saying that some people had threatened to damage the piece.
“We have judged this entry based on the cake decorating skills and not the subject matter,” it added.
But 3rd Space called the organizer’s response as a half-baked “excuse that they came up [with] to cover their political censorship.”
Some replied to Cake International’s explanation with sarcastic posts showing a cake decorated as the Chinese flag as the “winner,” while others asked why the cake’s creator had been punished instead of those who threatened the entry.
“Regardless of any political motive behind this cake… ANYONE threatening to destroy a fellow competitors work,should be removed and banned from future shows,” said Julie Dickens, the CEO of Kraftykook’s Kitchen Kreations, according to the Telegraph.
Protests broke out across Hong Kong in June, triggered by a contentious bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China.
They have become increasingly violent and have expanded into demands for greater freedoms and police accountability. Five people were injured in a knife attack and one man had part of his ear bitten off this weekend.