I have always held a deep respect for the broad-mindedness and open nature of true artists, as opposed to those cold-blooded artists for hire who abandon their values for a few gold sovereigns.
The fundamental difference between these two types of artists lies in the strength of their convictions, which dictates whether they will hold fast to their beliefs when they are severely tested, or simply cast them aside as extraneous flotsam.
Chinese-American actor Ryan Jiang (姜光宇) is a Falun Gong practitioner. He received the “best actor” award at the 2019 Wales International Film Festival for his leading role in the film Origin Bound.
The film also received the “best feature film” award at the Greatest Show of All Time film festival in New York City.
Jiang has said that he views the awards as a form of recognition for the human rights issues, moral questions and values explored in the film, and that the awards give Falun Gong practitioners support, validation and encouragement in light of two decades of persecution.
Hopefully, more films that highlight similar positive values will be made in the future.
Jiang previously starred in big-name Chinese productions such as Yongzheng Dynasty (雍正王朝).
However, Jiang held fast to his principles on human rights, and when Chinese film and television production companies began to include a clause in employment contracts that require actors to renounce Falun Gong, Jiang refused to comply, which meant that work dried up and he disappeared from the Chinese market.
After leaving the Chinese entertainment industry 17 years ago, Jiang has slowly carved out a niche for himself in New York.
I have known Taiwanese actor Eddie Peng (彭于晏) and his elder sister since kindergarten. I remember that Peng always wore a sunny smile.
Peng grew up in a single-parent family with his mother raising three children.
Over a number of years, my strong sense of “Taiwaneseness” rubbed off on Peng and his sister. Before departing for Canada for schooling at the age of 13, they came to see me and say goodbye. These memories mingled with an indescribable feeling of moroseness when I learned last week that my old friend had taken the lead in advocating for the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “Support Xinjiang cotton” movement.
Was he so afraid that his career in China would be affected when the CCP started its witch hunt that he had to abandon human rights and start defending authoritarianism?
The Peng I remember was warmhearted, but now I find my self questioning whether he has given up on being a conscientious actor worthy of our respect and instead become an unsentimental, party-aligned actor for hire.
Must he really submit to the whims of the CCP? The Peng I knew had a conscience and cared about human rights. Does he feel that he has no choice but to compromise his beliefs on this issue?
However, Peng and his peers are hardly short of money. Are they really reliant on China’s market for survival? How can they hold their heads high as public figures as they trample over the blood and tears of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities incarcerated in Xinjiang’s concentration camp system?
No matter how profitable their Chinese business operations are, Nike, Adidas, H&M, Uniqlo and other international brands are all free to choose not to be a part of it.
However, the agents and management companies that represent actors and entertainers, motivated entirely by profit, have rushed to issue statements in support of cotton from Xinjiang and against blacklisted brands.
The celebrities and actors who they represent are forced to morally debase themselves, as though they were mere pawns in a wider game of chess.
Outside of the Chinese market stuffed with “little pink” cybernationalists, who will respect them now?
A boycott of the world’s second-largest economy would certainly not be easy, but with Taiwan constantly subjected to Chinese suppression and running out of time to unite the public behind Taiwan’s defense, how can Taiwanese continue to work hand in glove with the wicked CCP regime?
My old friend Peng would do well to think of Jiang.
Peng has a large, young fan base in Taiwan, yet he has become the worst possible role model for them: The message he is sending is that lining one’s pockets is more important than standing up for human rights.
Perhaps he does not care so long as he can lead a comfortable life. By turning a blind eye to the crimes in Xinjiang, are Peng and his contemporaries true artists, or merely actors for hire?
Chu Meng-hsiang is an adviser to the Lee Teng-hui Foundation.
Translated by Edward Jones
In September 2013, the armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) quietly released an internal document entitled, “Coursebook on the Military Geography of the Taiwan Strait.” This sensitive, “military-use-only” coursebook explains why it is strategically vital that China “reunify” (annex) Taiwan. It then methodically analyzes various locations of interest to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) war planners. The coursebook highlights one future battlefield in particular: Fulong Beach, in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District, which it describes as “3,000 meters long, flat, and straight,” and located at “the head of Taiwan.” A black and white picture of Fulong’s sandy coastline occupies the
Early last month, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), officially approved the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan. The strategy was supposed to demonstrate that China has a long-term economic vision that would enable it to thrive, despite its geopolitical contest with the US. However, before the ink on the NPC’s stamp could dry, China had already begun sabotaging the plan’s chances of success. The new plan’s centerpiece is the “dual-circulation” strategy, according to which China would aim to foster growth based on domestic demand and technological self-sufficiency. This would not only reduce China’s reliance on external demand; it would also
Interrupting the assimilation of Xinjiang’s Uighur population would result in an unmanageable national security threat to China. Numerous governments and civil society organizations around the world have accused China of massive human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and labeled Beijing’s inhumane and aggressive social re-engineering efforts in the region as “cultural genocide.” Extensive evidence shows that China’s forceful ethnic assimilation policies in Xinjiang are aimed at replacing Uighur ethnic and religious identity with a so-called scientific communist dogma and Han Chinese culture. The total assimilation of Uighurs into the larger “Chinese family” is also Beijing’s official, central purpose of its ethnic policies
In studies of Taiwan’s demographic changes, the Institute of Sociology at Academia Sinica has found that a mere 36.5 percent of men and 19.6 percent of women think getting married is an important life event. The institute also found that the government spending money or amending laws and regulations in order to encourage families to have children is having no impact on the birthrate. Opinions differ on whether this kind of change is a matter of national security, as Japan faces a similar situation, without having a negative impact on its economic strength. Fewer women are willing to marry and the divorce