Netizens from Taiwan and China have been engaged in a heated debate over the appropriateness of Taiwanese singer-songwriter Deserts Chang (張懸) bringing a Republic of China (ROC) national flag on stage at her concert in the UK on Saturday, a move that was met with angry shouts from a Chinese woman in the audience.
The conflict broke out in the middle of the show at the University of Manchester when Chang took an ROC flag from a group of Taiwanese students in the front row and unfurled it on stage, saying: “I see there are also people who bring a national flag to the concert. I have not felt so patriotic for a while ... and I am from Taiwan.”
The singer’s gesture apparently enraged the Chinese fan, who shouted: “There are students from mainland [China] here. No politics today.”
To which Chang said: “It’s not politics, it is just a flag that represents where I am from.”
The argument continued on the blogosphere on Monday, when a user of the Chinese social networking site Douban.com who identified herself as the Chinese woman who was shouting at the concert, posted an article defending her outburst.
“I just want to point out the fact that she [Chang] did use the words ‘national flag,’ which, according to Wikipedia, means: ‘A flag that symbolizes a country,’” the woman wrote.
She went on to say that she respected the opinions of Chang and everyone who comes from Taiwan, adding that she could not care less what they said about such a “sensitive subject” in private.
“However, as a star whose words carry significant weight, she [Chang] went too far when she brought the subject to the table,” the woman said, adding: “Deserts Chang is dead to me now.”
The woman also criticized other Chinese fans at the concert for not backing her up when their “bottom lines were being challenged.”
In response, Chang issued a statement on her Facebook page yesterday in which she said she did not have any politically driven ulterior motives when she unfurled the flag, nor was she trying to advocate her political views when the Chinese woman interrupted her.
“Most of the audience that day were ethnic Chinese. I saw a group of Taiwanese students waving the flag along with a cardboard sign with my name on it in the middle of my performance, so I brought them to the stage,” Chang said in the statement.
Chang added that it was not her intention to set a political tone for the performance by waving the flag.
“I am perfectly aware that ROC national flags are a sensitive symbol for some and I have also given a lot of thought regarding my national identity for years,” the singer said. “In spite of everything, I still don’t want to run away from any opportunities to interact [with Chinese people] or to avoid talking about what the flag means to you and me,” Chang said.
“I truly hope that someday, somewhere, in all places and to anybody, we can always talk to each other and we can always listen,” she said.