Sat, Jan 05, 2013 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: China launches culture offensive

A concert presenting stars from the Chinese Music Chart Awards (中國歌曲排行榜) was held at the Taipei Arena over the weekend.

Usually, there would be nothing much to be said about a music concert, but the Chinese Music Chart is compiled by Beijing Music Radio, which is one of the stations belonging to the state-owned Radio Beijing Corp, and the concert in Taipei aroused suspicions right from the start.

The Chinese Music Chart is divided into two groups — one for “the interior” and the other for “Hong Kong and Taiwan.” Tickets for the show were neither sold nor given away openly.

During the planning stage, legislators belonging to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and its pan-blue allies were reported to be applying pressure for the concert to be approved, and for the chart award ceremony and concert to be combined as a single event, to make it really spectacular.

Opposition parties protested, saying that the event, while presented as an innocent cross-strait exchange, was really being used to belittle Taiwan’s status and push for unification through cultural means. These protests forced the concert’s organizers to make some adjustments in response, but these changes were not enough to allay everyone’s suspicions, and that is why the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) invited members of the public to join it at the venue to keep an eye on what was going on.

The Chinese Music Chart is a well-established chart for Chinese-language pop songs. Having been in existence for 20 years, it is a significant chart in the pop music market and is fairly influential, even if there have been some controversies about how the chart is compiled. If seen purely from the standpoint of pop music exchanges, there would be no reason why a concert associated with the chart should not be held in Taiwan.

However, if people want to organize activities in Taiwan, they should at least make sure to follow Taiwan’s laws and respect the feelings of the Taiwanese.However, the organizers paid no attention to such concerns. This is above all true of the concert’s title and content. While there was one category for “the interior,” the other category included both Hong Kong and Taiwan, lumped together as if their status were the same. This, along with various suspicious things in the concert’s planning process, is quite enough to show that the event’s real purpose was not to promote musical exchanges, but to get a foot in Taiwan’s door and launch a cultural offensive.

As TSU Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said, the Chinese Music Chart seeks to “culturally synchronize” the two sides of the Taiwan Strait by ranking songs from Taiwan and China together in the same chart, and this is one aspect of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) strategy of merging Taiwan’s culture with that of China.

In other words, under the originally proposed arrangements for a combined award ceremony and concert, with songs from the two sides listed together, the Chinese awards would have created an image of both sides of the Taiwan Strait belonging to one family. What would follow on from that would be for Taiwan’s pop music business to gradually lose its distinctive identity. That is the real reason behind the high-profile move to hold a Chinese Music Chart concert in Taiwan.

Following loud protests by Taiwan’s opposition parties, the government of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) imposed some restrictive measures on the event. This move prompted Fan Liqing (范麗青), spokeswoman of the Taiwan Affairs Office of China’s State Council, to say the holding of the Chinese Music Chart event in Taiwan was an unofficial cultural exchange activity and that she hoped performance activities such as this would not be interfered with.

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