A Taiwanese editor who was tapped to head a men’s fashion magazine in China was replaced at the last minute, allegedly for wearing a ribbon at a farewell party that read “take back the mainland.”
The Mainland China Fashion Business Bulletin has reported that GQ China, the Chinese-language edition of the men’s magazine, on Friday promoted deputy managing editor Zeng Ming (曾鳴) to managing editor, effective immediately.
It said that Blues To (杜祖業), a Taiwanese national and editor-in-chief of GQ Taiwan, was originally given the managing editor position at GQ China, but the offer was withdrawn for “personal reasons.”
However, photographs circulating on the Internet showing To wearing a ribbon that read “take back the mainland” at a farewell party thrown by his colleagues at GQ Taiwan is believed to be the reason for the change of mind by GQ China.
“Take back the mainland” was one of the slogans coined by former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) as a show of determination to reconquer China following the defeat of the Nationalist forces in the Chinese Civil War.
The use of the slogan by someone who was about to start working in China showed a lack of political sensitivity, some people in the Chinese media have said.
GQ is owned by Conde Nast, a US mass media company. Its Chinese edition was launched in 2009 in partnership with China News Service.
Commenting on the incident, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) said that an international publication like GQ could be robbed of its sense of humor demonstrates the reach of Chinese social control beyond its borders.
“The junta in China is projecting its control on foreign societies, and private corporations have internalized it into a form of self-censorship,” he said. “Tu is a victim the Big Brother.”
Taiwanese politicians should reach across the ideological divide to protect people’s freedoms, instead of engaging in victim blaming, which rationalizes the behavior of the victimizer, he said.
New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said China is a chronic violator of the freedom of speech and that state repression there has escalated over the past few years.
The slogan “take back the mainland” is a staple of Taiwanese humor and disqualifying a job candidate over the joke is absurd, Hsu said.
“The vindictiveness on full display here is totally at odds with China’s claim of being a great nation,” he said.
Beijing’s intention to revive the Qing Dynasty’s literary inquisition on a global scale and impose Chinese values on the rest of the world is tantamount to a “declaration of war” on nations that believe in free speech, Hsu added.
“Tu got in trouble because he lacked awareness of the political situtation around him. Before going [to China], people who want to have a job in China should pay attention to this and realize that they need to censor themselves,” a Taiwanese working in China said on condition of anonymity.
Additional reporting by Lu Yi-hsuan
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