Tue, Apr 03, 2018 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: China tightening the screw

On Monday last week, China Film Co, the distributor of the Taiwanese film Missing Johnny (強尼‧凱克), abruptly announced that the film has been indefinitely suspended. That followed claims on Chinese social media that its male lead, Lawrence Ko (柯宇綸), supports Taiwanese independence.

Four days later, the Beijing branch of HIM International Music, the record label of Taiwanese singer Yoga Lin (林宥嘉), issued a statement denying claims that Lin supports Taiwanese independence.

The company “guarantees and promises that Lin is not a pro-Taiwan independence member; he has never in private or in public supported Taiwanese independence nor made any remarks relating to or in support of Taiwanese independence,” the statement said.

While Beijing might be patting itself on the back for “scoring” another point and “dampening” the morale of supporters of Taiwanese independence, the latest incidents serve only to widen the gap between democratic Taiwan and communist China.

Those incidents, which occurred after China’s Feb. 28 announcement of 31 measures and economic benefits for Taiwanese wishing to work and live in China, reveal not only Beijing’s hypocrisy, but also its autocratic nature.

As befits a communist country that persecutes religious dissenters and curtails civil and political freedoms, Beijing has made it clear to the Taiwanese public that its claims of allowing Taiwanese to enjoy “national treatment” in China means nothing more than “facing discrimination and restrictions on their freedoms and rights to political expression.”

China’s actions bring to mind similar incidents, such as Chou Tzu-yu (周子瑜), the Taiwanese member of South Korean girl group TWICE, being forced to apologize in public for holding a Republic of China (ROC) flag on a South Korean television show, and Taiwanese actor/director Leon Dai (戴立忍) being replaced in the Chinese film No Other Love (沒有別的愛) after failing to clarify his political stance. One can only expect similar incidents to increase in the future.

China obviously is the main intimidator in all these cases, bullying Taiwanese entertainers and forcing them to make public their political stance. However, many cannot help but wonder: Where is the Taiwanese government in all this?

As Missing Johnny director Lin Cheng-sheng (林正盛) said in his response to the Chinese ban: “It is the government that should express its opinion.”

Indeed, the government needs to be more active and approach the matter pragmatically.

Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said that Taiwan’s niche in its bid to venture into international public broadcasting is its democratic values and freedom.

“The best way to prevent risks is to bolster one’s strengths and let people realize that opportunities await them here in Taiwan,” Cheng said.

However, talk is cheap. The public is sick and tired of the Democratic Progressive Party government making empty promises or offering meek protests and rhetoric, all the while casting the blame on China.

Cheng and the DPP administration as a whole need to know that the vision of a thriving Taiwanese entertainment industry lies not in flowery and empty speeches; what the public wants to see is concrete actions to develop the industry and cultural sector, and extend and broaden the reach of Taiwan-produced creative content beyond China.

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