Organizers of China’s Chinese Music Chart Awards (中國歌曲排行榜) announced on Thursday that this year’s musical extravaganza would be staged in Taiwan’s Taipei Arena, despite not having received official approval from the Taiwanese government — an announcement opposition lawmakers blasted as national self-belittlement and an embodiment of the President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration’s “one country, two areas” (一國兩區) formula.
According to Chinese media reports, organizers of the event broke the news at a press conference in Beijing.
A list of nominees comprising big-name singers from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong nominated for 16 categories in the 20th Chinese Music Chart Awards, which is scheduled to take place on Dec. 29, was also released at the press conference.
The Chinese Music Chart is a program broadcast by Beijing Music Video that holds an award ceremony annually in Beijing.
The event has only been held overseas twice, in 2002 and 2005, when it was held in the US.
Most of the 16 awards categories are divided into two groups — China, and Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The change of venue, if granted by Taiwanese authorities, would mark the first Chinese awards ceremony to “sing the praises of Taiwan,” organizers said.
Amid public concern over the risk of the country falling into national abasement if the Chinese event is staged in Taiwan, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) yesterday confirmed that it had received application documents from the event organizers and that 26 agencies, led by the Ministry of Culture, are scheduled to jointly review the case on Tuesday.
“After a consensus is reached during the review meeting, the government will also factor in opinions voiced by all sectors of society and decide whether to approve, deny or conditionally grant the application,” the agency said.
The agency declined to comment on the organizers’ unilateral advertisement of the Taipei Arena as the venue for the upcoming event before getting the nod on its application.
NIA Director-General Hsieh Li-kung (謝立功) said the agency would tell the Taiwan-based organizations that invited the Chinese awards event to Taiwan to pay close attention to detailed arrangements prior to the joint review meeting.
Lashing out at the Chinese event’s grouping of nominees, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) yesterday said the event organizers’ making an announcement without official approval was a concrete embodiment of the much-scrutinized “one country, two areas” proposal.
The contentious proposal was tendered by former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) under the authorization of Ma, who also doubles as KMT chairman, during his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in Beijing in March.
“If the Ma administration does give the Chinese event the go-ahead to be held in Taiwan, it not only constitutes national self-abasement, but also suggests that Ma has willingly downgraded himself to a ‘district chief’ by constantly listening to China,” Chen said.
DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said Taiwan’s international edge in cultural innovation has gradually lost its subjectivity and been forced to latch onto the Chinese market because of the government’s lack of attention.
“Ma almost always looks to China to fix problems in Taiwan, as highlighted by the Ma administration’s economic over-dependence on Chinese investors and tourists, which has turned Taiwan into a borderland of China,” she said.
“That is why the Chinese organizers could issue the announcement [of the event’s venue] before getting a green light from the Taiwanese government,” Hsiao said, adding that such national self-abasement could be repeated in the future if China gets its way this time.
According to Chu Wen-ching (朱文清), director of the ministry’s Bureau of Audiovisual and Music Industry Development, the Chinese event may not require the ministry’s approval if it is held as an ordinary concert by the private sector. The organizers are then only required to apply for entry permits for visiting Chinese celebrities as stipulated by immigration laws.
When asked how the ministry would react if China’s largest film awards event, the Golden Rooster Awards, was also moved to Taiwan, Chu said he could not answer hypothetical questions, as doing so would only give rise to unnecessary political speculation.
Additional reporting by Wang Yu-hu