Thu, Sep 17, 2015 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: A little self-respect goes a long way

Amid the constant media outpourings of Taiwanese pop stars affectionately addressing China as “inland” (內地) — a loaded term implying that China’s borders encompass Taiwan — it was certainly gratifying to see one local entertainer on an international stage not too shy to proudly proclaim herself to be “Taiwanese.”

“I am happy to receive this award as a Taiwanese artist,” Taiwanese actress and singer Ariel Lin (林依晨) said in fluent Korean on Thursday last week as she picked up her Asian Star Prize at the Seoul International Drama Awards for her role in the popular Taiwanese TV drama In Time with You (我可能不會愛你).

Given that so many Taiwanese performers are reluctant to state their nationality in public for fear of upsetting Chinese audiences and thereby reducing their popularity and earnings potential in the Chinese market, Lin deserves a loud round of applause for being proud of her origin.

Lin’s behavior stands in stark contrast to that of Taiwanese singer Yeh Wei-ting (葉瑋庭) a few years back, who introduced herself as being from “China Taipei Pingtung District” (中國台北屏東區) during a singing competition on a Chinese reality television show.

While Lin merely stated the obvious by identifying herself as “Taiwanese,” she apparently touched the ultra-sensitive nerves of some Chinese netizens, who instantly launched a volley of criticism, heckling Lin to “get back to Taiwan and not to ever set foot in China.”

Such vitriol is nothing new. Taiwanese pop singer Christine Fan (范瑋琪) innocently posted photographs of her twin babies on Sept. 3 — the same day Beijing showcased the People’s Liberation Army and weaponry in a parade purportedly celebrating the end of World War II — and she instantly came under attack from Chinese netizens who berated her for “not loving China.”

Fan, who had previously spoken out against cyberbullying, apologized for posting the photos and later deleted them.

Chinese netizens were much more agreeable to Taiwanese singer and actor Jiro Wang (汪東城), who reposted information on Beijing’s parade on the Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo.

He was praised for his “love of the motherland.”

While some may be quick to dismiss these incidents as trivia, they actually foster distorted values. Why should it be such a rarity — and a display of courage — for Taiwanese celebrities to say that they are Taiwanese? Why when it comes to conflict with Chinese netizens, do notions of right and wrong fly out the window and there is no condemnation for cyberbullying?

Self-respect earns respect. Taiwan is a sovereign nation, despite Beijing’s incorrect and incessant claims to the contrary, both in China and on the international stage.

A poll by National Chengchi University’s Election Study Center in July found that 59 percent of respondents identify themselves as Taiwanese.

The poll, part of a study that began in 1992, found 33.7 percent of respondents said they are both Taiwanese and Chinese, while those who identified themselves solely as Chinese dropped to a historic low of 3.3 percent.

Taiwanese artists, whose rise to international stardom began in Taiwan, owe it to themselves and the nation to correctly state their nationality. For if they do not do so, who will know where they come from?

As for Fan, her aboutface in the face of Chinese bullying created confusion and misconceptions about the meaning of cyberbullying.

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