Sat, Sep 19, 2009 - Page 1 News List

DPP condemns China over film festival

DOCUMENTARY DRAMABeijing protested Rebiya Kadeer's visit to the Melbourne Film Festival earlier this year and now the Kaohsiung Film Festival is attracting its ire

By Loa Iok-sin and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday condemned China for intervening in the selection of films at the upcoming Kaohsiung Film Festival and voiced its support for the screening of a documentary on prominent Uighur independence activist Rebiya Kadeer.

“Film production, as a form of artistic expression, should be protected as part of freedom of expression without political intervention,” the party said in a press release. “The Taiwanese people have every right to freely choose which movies they would like to see without having to gain permission from the Chinese government in advance — and we will not tolerate the intervention of the Chinese government.”

The DPP’s remarks came in response to a call by the tourism industry in Kaohsiung for the screening of a documentary on World Uyghur Congress president Rebiya Kadeer titled The 10 Conditions of Love at the Kaohsiung Film Festival to be canceled. The festival takes place between Oct. 16 and Oct. 29.

Representatives from the tourism industry said the screening of the movie, along with the visit by Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama at the end of last month, could harm cross-strait relations and the tourism industry in the city, as Chinese tourist groups have canceled hotel and restaurant reservations and visits to the city.

Beijing claims US-based Kadeer is a terrorist and has accused her of inciting unrest in the Xinjiang region earlier this year. China protested Kadeer’s visit to Australia last month for a screening of the biopic at the Melbourne International Film Festival and Chinese directors boycotted the festival.

The DPP yesterday condemned Beijing for using cross-strait economic exchanges as a bargaining chip for political purposes, warning that such a move would only “disgust the Taiwanese” and would be harmful to the development of the cross-strait relationship.

DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲), who was elected by the Kaohsiung constituency and was behind the creation of the film festival in 2001 when she was Kaohsiung City Information Office director-general, said that in an ironic way Beijing’s intervention was a “good thing.”

“I think it’s a good thing because it helps Taiwanese realize that the Chinese leadership does not separate politics and economic exchanges, or differentiate between politics and culture,” she told the Taipei Times via telephone. “I hope it helps Taiwanese to understand something.”

Officials at the Kaohsiung City Information Office yesterday said that the city government was still reviewing the plan to screen the documentary.

Later, the city government said in a press release that, after a meeting with hotel operators and travel agencies earlier in the day, it was found that Chinese tourist groups had canceled their hotel reservations mainly because roads leading to popular tourist destinations, such as Alishan (阿里山), had been damaged by Typhoon Morakot and have not yet been repaired.

The rising number of swine flu cases was another reason why many tourists had canceled their trips, it added.

When contacted by the Taipei Times, Deputy Kaohsiung Mayor Lee Yung-te (李永得) said he could not comment on the issue as he had been in South Korea the past few days attending the Asian-Pacific City Summit. Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) is in Japan on a business trip and will not return until later today, he said.

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