The Taiwanese member of the South Korean pop group TWICE, Chou Tzu-yu (周子瑜), did nothing more than briefly wave the Republic of China (ROC) flag on a South Korean TV show. For this innocuous act, Chou was ratted out by Taiwanese singer and long-term resident of China, Huang An (黃安), who accused her of supporting Taiwanese independence.
Unbelievably, Chou’s South Korean management company forced her to record a short video apologizing for her actions. The 16-year-old was forced to call herself “Chinese” and to say that she was wrong to have waved Taiwan’s flag.
This incident has caused public outrage both in Taiwan and Hong Kong for China’s intolerable bullying of a young girl.
The way in which Chou, wearing simple black clothes and with an ashen face, read out the scripted apology not only showed that it was a forced apology, the way the video was shot was reminiscent of those notorious hostage videos produced by terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State (IS) group or al-Qaeda.
Taken together with the recent seizure by Chinese authorities of Hong Kong resident, Lee Bo (李波), a shareholder in a bookstore — whose whereabouts are still unknown — and one can see that Beijing’s methods are already no different from a terrorist organization.
It is difficult to distinguish China’s bullying and humiliation of a Taiwanese teen who is still a minor with the terrorist actions of the IS and their ilk.
The nature in which Huang smugly broadcast his self-satisfied views on the Sina Weibo microblog was not just a blatant betrayal of Taiwan, his actions have caused a great deal of hurt to all Taiwanese.
William Joyce, a US-born British passport holder nicknamed Lord Haw-Haw by the British public for his propaganda broadcasts from Nazi Germany during World War II, was convicted of high treason in 1945 for aiding Britain’s enemy.
How does Huang’s conduct differ from the crazed behavior of fanatical IS members who execute innocent individuals as “enemies” or “apostates”?
Chinese have a tradition of extremism and fanaticism: the chaos of the 1899 Boxer Rebellion in north China and the 1966 to 1976 Cultural Revolution bear a remarkable similarity to the fanaticism of IS.
As political regimes become unstable, the holders of power become more inclined to fan the flames of frenzied emotion in order to shore up their power. The chaos of the 1899 Boxer Rebellion stemmed from Empress Dowager Cixi’s (慈禧太后) importation of Western ideas, but the leaders of the rebellion incited the gullible public to “Support the Qing and annihilate the West!”
In 1966, Mao Zedong (毛澤東) fired the starting gun on a Cultural Revolution which was originally intended as a way for him to retake political power from Liu Shaoqi (劉少奇), who at that time was president of China and vice chairman of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
It might be that Chinese President Xin Jinping (習近平) has not just turned a blind eye, but even encouraged Huang’s wanton bullying. Whether Beijing would intentionally fan the flames of a fanatical Han Chinese nationalism in order to shore up political power remains to be seen.
However what is certain is that, whether Hong Konger or Taiwanese, people must bravely stand up and loudly reject this extremism. Turning a blind eye only serves to further feed their appetites, just as Britain and France’s policy of appeasement toward Nazi Germany prior to World War II simply increased Adolf Hitler’s hunger for territorial conquest, so that in the end war became inevitable.
Taiwan cannot appease China.
Martin Oei is a political commentator based in Hong Kong.
Translated by Edward Jones
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