Former Wallabies star Nick Cummins has been accused of endorsing human rights abuses in Hong Kong after becoming the face of the region’s new tourism campaign.
Cummins, nicknamed the Honey Badger, played 15 tests for Australia and featured in the Hong Kong Sevens tournament. He has since featured on reality shows including The Bachelor, SAS Australia and his travel show Off the Grid with the Badger.
Cummins is featured in a series of ads touring through iconic Hong Kong spots and said when the campaign was announced: ““Hong Kong is one of my all-time favourite cities in the world. The people, the culture, the hustle, the bustle – you just can’t beat it. From the restaurants and nightlife, to getting outdoors and exploring, there really is something for everyone. I can’t wait for Aussies to explore Hong Kong like I have.”
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But Jane Poon, a former magazine editor and member of the Australia-Hong Kong Link, told Fairfax Cummins’ involvement in the campaign was distasteful. Hong Kong has faced wide condemnation over human rights and backlash to its national security law (NSL) introduced in 2020.
“What he is doing is endorsing a government that is violating human rights,” Jane Poon, a former magazine editor and member of the Australia-Hong Kong Link, told Fairfax.
“The people of the city are actually struggling because of what the government is doing. By taking these jobs celebrities are endorsing a government that is condemned by the international community.”
Exiled Hong Kong legislator Ted Hui told the publication he did not doubt the intentions of Cummins as an athlete but it was “disappointing to see anyone being a part of Beijing’s or the Hong Kong regime’s propaganda.”
Fairfax had contacted Cummins for comment.