Luxury Italian sports-car brand Maserati has cut sponsorship ties with Taiwan’s top film awards, the latest international brand to bow to pressure from China over political issues.
Maserati said on an official account on a Chinese microblogging site that it had pulled out of sponsoring the Golden Horse Awards.
The company directly linked its decision to Beijing’s stance on Taiwan.
“Maserati has always respected China’s territorial integrity, its history and culture, while firmly upholding the one China principle,” the firm said.
The initial sponsorship deal was struck by Maserati’s local office in Taiwan and did not represent the brand’s “official stance,” it said.
Wen Tien-hsiang, (聞天祥), executive director of the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival Executive Committee, yesterday confirmed the report, saying that the 56th Golden Horse Film Festival would not be affected and will go ahead as scheduled next month.
“Sponsors have always enjoyed high [media] exposure at the film festival and awards presentation event. We won’t make things difficult for sponsoring businesses,” Wen said.
The Golden Horse awards got into trouble with Beijing after Taiwanese filmmaker Fu Yu (傅榆) called for Taiwanese independence in an acceptance speech at last year’s ceremony.
In August, China’s national film board ordered Chinese directors and stars to boycott the Nov. 23 event and all Chinese films were withdrawn from the nomination list.
International brands have routinely bowed to Beijing’s stance on Taiwan. A growing list of international firms, including luxury brands, airlines and hotels, in the past few years have been pressured to apologize to Beijing or change Taiwan’s classification on their Web sites to “Taiwan, China” or “Chinese Taipei.”
Last week, Dior apologized after a staff presentation featured a map of China without Taiwan on it. The apology sparked criticism from Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), who urged brands to “stand up to the bully.”
On Thursday, US Vice President Mike Pence gave a speech excoriating brands who bow to pressure from Beijing, singling out the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Nike.
The NBA has been engulfed in controversy since Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey this month tweeted “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”
China, a major market for the NBA, retaliated by ending sponsorships and canceling broadcasts of pre-season games in the country, leading the NBA to drop all media events of the tour.
Nike pulled Houston Rockets merchandise from its stores in China.
Additional reporting by staff writer, with CNA
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