Sun, Oct 10, 2004 - Page 3 News List

National Day celebrations take on new complexion

POP AND POLITICS Many of Taiwan's top performers will be conspicuously absent from today's events, fearing being labeled `pro-green' by the leadership in Beijing

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Spectators attending today's National Day celebrations in front of the Presidential Office will notice the absence of big-name artists. It is especially apparent when compared to the time period of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rule, when famed entertainers were often seemed eager to accept an invitation to perform on formal occasions.

But due to the huge profits offered by the Chinese market, many Taiwanese entertainers are distancing themselves from taking the stage when it means having to rub shoulders with pan-green officials. Many are afraid of being labeled as "pro-green" entertainers by the leadership in Beijing. The first such singer to suffer from this kind of fallout was Aboriginal singer Chang Hui-mei (張惠妹) -- better known as A-mei -- after she sung the national anthem at President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) inauguration in 2000. She was faced with a backlash from China following her performance. Beijing also banned her from performing in China and ads she appeared in on Chinese television were scrapped. China lifted the ban after a year.

Olympic taekwondo gold medalists Chen Shih-hsin (陳詩欣) and Chu Mu-yen (朱木炎) will this year lead fourteen fellow Olympic and Paralympic medalists in singing the national anthem with students from National Taiwan Normal University.

Officials at Chinese Television System (CTS), the station authorized to broadcast the National Day festivities, admitted that it ran into some difficulty finding entertainers to perform for the event.

Pop singers such as Jay Chou (周杰倫), Wu Bai (伍佰) and Jolin Tsai (蔡依林) turned down the invitation to perform for the event, citing "prior commitments."

The evening party, which will take place on the square in front of the Presidential Office tonight from 7pm until 10:30pm, will be hosted by Pung Chia-chia (澎恰恰) and Chen Mei-feng (陳美鳳). Most of the entertainers performing tonight are singers best known for performing in Taiwanese. Among them are Hung Rong-hung (洪榮宏), Wang Shih-hsien (王識賢) and Tseng Hsin-mei (曾心梅). Other singers scheduled to performs include boy band 5566, Cindy Wang (王心凌) and other artists who are still working to make it big.

Aside from an array of cultural performances, military parades and the like during the day's ceremonies outside the Presidential Office, spectators will be treated to a taste of Taiwanese flavor which characterizes this year's National Day celebrations. For the first time, Chen will not lead the crowd in chanting "long live the Republic of China."

"Shouting slogans is outdated -- even the military doesn't do it anymore," said Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).

A new National Day design will replace the traditional National Day decorative arch in front of the Presidential Office building. The new logo, designed by a senior high school student, features an image of a green shape of the island with a pair of peace doves painted in gold adjacent to the name "Taiwan" in English.

About 82,000 foreign guests, local politicians and overseas Taiwanese are expected to attend the morning celebration, according to the event organizer.

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