The Taiwanese subsidiary of China-based online video streaming service iQIYI has been accused of refusing to air a Taiwanese series for containing discussions related to Taiwanese independence and footage of the Sunflower movement.
The movement provides the background for the miniseries Days We Stared at the Sun II (他們在畢業的前一天爆炸2), directed by Cheng Yu-chieh (鄭有傑) and funded by the Taiwanese Public Television Service (PTS).
The series is also broadcast online by Line TV, iQIYI Taiwan and KKTV streaming services.
The Chinese streaming service broadcast the first episode without censorship, but it did not broadcast the second episode, which aired on PTS on Saturday.
Many people said that iQIYI Taiwan’s refusal to air the episode might have something to do with dialogue that could draw Beijing’s ire.
In one scene, the character of Chinese student Huang Chien (黃茜), who covers the Sunflower movement as a student reporter, asks a Taiwanese student if he identifies himself as Chinese. In response, the student says that he is Taiwanese.
In another scene, protesters urge police to protest as well, saying they would be part of the Chinese Public Security Bureau if they did not.
iQIYI Taiwan said in a statement that it made an adjustment in its programming as part of its strategy to differentiate itself from other online platforms.
It said that it has reached an agreement with PTS to replace the series with Lion Dance, another PTS-funded drama.
Lion Dance was adapted from the story of the Hong Sheng Lion Dance Troupe’s founder Chang Yuan-rong (張遠榮). It is PTS’ first series filmed in 4K high-definition.
However, an academic said anything related to the Sunflower movement would be considered a sensitive topic by Beijing.
“The Occupy Central with Love and Peace campaign in 2014 and the advocacy for Hong Kong independence emerged due to or were bolstered by the Sunflower movement,” said Fan Shi-ping (范世平), professor at the Graduate Institute of Political Science at National Taiwan Normal University.
The Sunflower movement refers to student-led protests that began on March 18, 2014, in which students occupied the legislative chamber for almost 23 days to protest a trade in services agreement with China and how it was handled by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.
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