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China’s art event bullying ‘barbaric’: ministry

POWER PLAY:The representative to Canada contacted the nation’s border agency for clarification after it used ‘Chinese Taipei’ in a statement about steel dumping

By Yang Ming-yi and Peng Wan-hsin  /  Staff reporters

Members of the Juann Choir from Nantou County’s Minhe Junior High School pose after a flash mob performance in Vienna on Friday.

Photo: CNA / The Nantou Department of Education

The Ministry of Culture yesterday decried China’s bullying of Taiwan at international arts events and called on the international community to support freedom of artistic expression and to bar Chinese political influence from cultural exchanges.

One of the incidents involved Fang Shiang Dance Theater (方相舞蹈團), one of the groups invited to perform at an International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts event in Lazio, Italy, the ministry said.

On Tuesday, one day before the troupe was scheduled to take the stage, its members were handed identification cards displaying Chinese and Republic of China flags, a substantial part of which was covered by the Chinese flag, the ministry said.

After troupe members protested to the organizers, they were given new cards that did not display any flag, becoming the only performing group that was not denoted by a flag, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, the Juann Choir (濁岸合唱團) from Minhe Junior High School in Nantou County was initially scheduled to perform at the World Peace Choral Festival yesterday in Vienna, but it was dropped from the lineup following Chinese intervention and gave a charity performance at an Austrian nursing home instead, the ministry said.

The festival was organized by the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund.

The ministry urged China not to impose its “skewed ideology” and political beliefs on culture or interfere with international cultural exchanges, saying that it had ordered all of its overseas branch offices to work with the nation’s foreign representative offices to assist performing groups engaging in cultural exchanges.

Several Chinese organizations were among the sponsors of the festival, including the Confucius Institute, China Central Television and the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Most of the judges at the festival were officials from the Chinese Ministry of Education, it added.

Beijing’s attempts to deny Taiwan’s sovereignty in international sporting and artistic events are barbaric and show that it has no regard for the humanistic values the events represent, it said.

Its attempts run counter to the mainstream values of inclusivity and diversity embraced by international society, and show how China readily meddles with international exchanges to bully Taiwan, it added.

“Taiwan will not cower or hide in the face of China’s bullying tactics. It will be more steadfast than ever in its pursuit of progressive values such as democracy and diversity, and it will capitalize on its soft power to take on a more active role in the international community,” the foreign ministry said.

Separately on Friday, Representative to Canada Chen Wen-yi (陳文儀) expressed concern over a reference to Taiwan as “Chinese Taipei” in a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) news release.

The office has already reached out to the CBSA and Global Affairs Canada for clarification, Chen said.

In the news release issued on Thursday, the agency announced that it has launched an investigation into whether a certain type of corrosion-resistant steel sheeting is being dumped on the Canadian market by “China, Chinese Taipei, India and South Korea.”

The representative office is to reiterate Taiwan’s position to the CBSA tomorrow and seek clarification on the issue, Chen said.

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