There have been a host of incidents involving Taiwanese celebrities making comments that have been perceived as attempts to ingratiate themselves with the Chinese market, but never has an incident sparked outrage as much as the one last week surrounding singer Christine Fan (范瑋琪). She used a barrage of derogatory epithets to describe Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) after the government banned exports of surgical masks for a month amid fears of a local 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak.
Unlike Taiwanese K-pop idol Chou Tzu-yu (周子瑜), who was forced to apologize for briefly waving a Republic of China flag in an episode of a variety show, Fan’s Facebook post was completely spontaneous, which led many to question her intentions.
Although Fan deleted the post and apologized, saying that she had only hoped that people would treat one another with more love and kindness, her attempt at damage control backfired when more than 170,000 Facebook users responded to her apology with the “angry” reaction.
Fan portrayed herself as a humanitarian, yet when confronted by a person online asking her why she had remained silent when the Hong Kong government was brutally cracking down on people protesting an extradition bill, she said that the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong are a “political incident and beyond her power to comment on.”
This response prompted many to question whether she has forgotten her politically charged assault on Su and whether she considers protesting Hong Kongers to be human — also in need of love and kindness.
The controversy raged on when actress Big S (大S, also known as Barbie Hsu, 徐熙媛) and her younger sister, TV show host Little S (小S, also known as Dee Hsu, 徐熙娣), joined the fray. Barbie Hsu’s husband, Chinese millionaire Wang Xiaofei (汪小菲), on Thursday last week announced on China’s Sina Weibo microblogging site that he had purchased 10,000 surgical masks in Taiwan and would ship them to Wuhan, China, where the virus purportedly originated.
Wang later said that he would give the masks to people in Taiwan instead, as he was not allowed to export them to China, while Dee Hsu shared Wang’s Sina Weibo post and said: “It is against human nature not to help one another... Hatred is more dreadful than viruses.”
However, when the WHO, succumbing to Beijing’s pressure, left Taiwan out of emergency meetings on the prevention of 2019-nCoV, creating a breach in disease prevention efforts, the righteous words of Fan and Dee Hsu were nowhere to be heard.
As such, it was perfectly understandable that Dee Hsu’s swipe at the government and Fan’s apology failed to strike a chord. Ultimately, their hypocrisy proved too much for most Taiwanese.
To add to the absurdity of Fan and Dee Hsu chastising the government for issuing an export ban on masks, news channel TVBS last week reported that China manufactures 10 times as many masks as Taiwan, and that the nation imports about 400 million masks from China annually.
Su’s announcement of the export ban does not make him a “dog of a bureaucrat” — it was the only sensible thing to do and a timely judgement call as the virus spread across China and the world. If any other country were in such proximity to China and ran such a high risk from the virus, its government would also ensure that its people had prioritized access to masks.
At a time when China is threatening to diminish Taiwan’s international space and assimilate Taiwanese, 2019-nCoV has served as a demon-revealing mirror, only this time, the demons revealed themselves.
When Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping (習近平) wakes up one morning and decides that his People’s Liberation Army (PLA) can win a war to conquer Taiwan, that is when his war will begin. To ensure that Xi never gains that confidence it is now necessary for the United States to shed any notions of “forbearance” in arms sales to Taiwan. Largely because they could guarantee military superiority on the Taiwan Strait, US administrations from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama practiced “forbearance” — pre-emptive limitation of arms sales to Taiwan — in hopes of gaining diplomatic leverage with Beijing. President Ronald
As the US marks one month under the leadership of President Joe Biden, the conversations around Taiwan have shifted. As I discussed in a Taipei Times article (“No more talk of ‘bargaining chips,’” Jan. 30, page 8), with the end of former US president Donald Trump’s administration — and all of the unpredictability associated with it — Taiwan would not have to worry about being used as a “bargaining chip” in some sort of deal with the People’s Republic of China. The talk of Taiwan being used as a bargaining chip never subsided over those four years, but under Biden, those
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) talked about “opposing the Chinese Communist Party [CCP]” in a recent Facebook post, writing that opposing the CCP is not the special reserve of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Not long after, many people within the KMT received a mysterious letter signed “Chinese Nationalist Party Central Committee” containing what looked like a declaration of opposition to, and a call to arms against, the CCP. Unexpectedly, the KMT’s Culture and Communications Committee came forward with a clarification, saying that the letter was not sent by the KMT and telling the public not to believe
The Canadian parliament on Monday passed a motion saying that China’s human rights abuses against the country’s Uighur Muslim population in Xinjiang constitute “genocide.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far avoided using the word genocide in regard to Xinjiang, but if he did, it would begin to generate solidarity among G7 nations on the issue — which is something Trudeau has called for. Former US president Donald Trump used the word genocide regarding Xinjiang before leaving office last month, and members of US President Joe Biden’s administration have been pushing for him to make the same declaration, a Reuters report