It looks like the plan to have the Chinese Music Chart Awards ceremony broadcast from Taipei has been scuppered, thanks to the tone-deafness of the Chinese organizers, who made the mistake of “unilaterally” announcing last week that this year’s ceremony would be held in Taipei to mark the chart’s 20th anniversary, without first obtaining the Taiwanese government’s approval. However, the subterfuge used by the Taiwanese co-organizer and the government’s muddled response remain a cause for concern.
Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) appears to have put the kibosh on holding the awards show in Taipei after he told a legislative committee on Thursday that the organizers’ announcement had been “unwise” and that the government would not agree to such a ceremony being held here. Earlier in the week, a meeting of 26 Cabinet agencies had only decided that the organizers needed to submit additional paperwork before a decision would be made on whether the Dec. 29 ceremony could go ahead. Among the additional information requested was what role, if any, the Chinese government plays in the annual extravaganza.
While the plan to hold the show in Taipei only hit the headlines last week, it turns out that it had been in the works since at least January. That is when the Taiwanese co-organizer, the Taipei Artist Agency Association (TAAA), applied to the Taipei City Government’s Department of Cultural Affairs to hold what it said would be an annual association event at the Taipei Arena this month. It said the event would be a concert aimed at promoting the nation’s music industry to the world.
However, in April the association changed the title of the event to the Chinese Music Chart Awards without anyone appearing to notice. The department and Taipei Rapid Transit Corp, which operate the arena, apparently approved the revised application without reviewing the change of title or the event details, which is against regulations.
While the TAAA was still telling the Taipei City Government that the event was just a concert, it described the show as an awards ceremony in documents filed with the National Immigration Agency for entry permits for Chinese entertainers.
The ceremony appeared to be such a done deal as far as the Chinese were concerned that early last month a Chinese travel agency began advertising tours to Taipei that included tickets to the event.
The problem with having the awards ceremony in Taipei is that the award categories are divided into two divisions — China, and Hong Kong/Taiwan, disparaging Taiwan’s sovereignty by putting the nation on a level with a special administrative region of China. Plus, Taiwan already has its own music industry awards — the Golden Melody Awards, which are open to Chinese-language artists from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and elsewhere as well as Taiwanese Aboriginal artists.
It appears the government was caught off-guard by the Beijing organizers’ announcement. Given the efforts by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to pander to Beijing and Ma’s promotion of a “one country, two areas” formula, it is not hard to surmise that the government might have signed off on holding the show in Taipei if the news could have been kept out of the limelight a little while longer. It’s not hard to imagine the paperwork for it would have been okayed as another “cross-strait cultural exchange.”
The organizers have said they are now planning to hold the awards ceremony in Beijing with performances from the Taipei Arena aired as part of the show. That fallback should also be nixed because it would still give the impression, especially to Chinese television audiences, that the authorities here and the Taiwanese public have no trouble with Taiwan being seen as just another part of China. That is not the view of the majority of Taiwanese.