'Chinese-language Oscars' hit by controversy over status of Taiwan

Taiwanese director Fu Yue (R) poses backstage after winning Best Documentary for her movie "Our Youth in Taiwan" at the 55th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei on November 17, 2018. Photo: CNN

A film awards ceremony became controversial after a Taiwanese filmmaker made pro-independence comments at the so-called "Chinese-language Oscars".

On November 17, the 55th Golden Horse Award Ceremony was held in Taipei.

Many celebrities, including Oscar-winning Taiwanese-American director Ang Lee, mainland superstar Gong Li, and Hong Kong's "heavenly king" Andy Lau, attended the activity.

Fu Yue, the director who won the Best Documentary Film Award for her Our Youth in Taiwan about the island's 2014 Sunflower Movement, expressed her hope that Taiwan can be treated as an "independent entity" at the stage.

"I hope one day our country will be recognized and treated as a truly independent entity. This is my biggest wish as a Taiwanese," Fu said in her acceptance speech.

In a move to hit back, Chinese mainland actor Tu Men grabbed the chance of giving the prize on the stage, saying, "It is my great honor to come to Chinese Taiwan to attend the ceremony. I can feel that both sides of the Taiwan Straits are one family."

Later in the evening, Gong Li, the chair of the jury and the leading actress in many of acclaimed director Zhang Yimou's movies, expressed her dissatisfaction with Fu's statement by refusing to take the stage to present the Best Feature Film along with Ang Lee.

The Chinese mainland attendees were allegedly asked to boycott the after-ceremony party.

Fu's pro-independence speech made a splash on the Internet following media reports, and angered many netizens in the Chinese mainland. 

A number of celebrities posted messages with the hashtag "China: Not even one bit less" on the country's Twitter-like Weibo to support Tu's speech and Gong's action.

Stars from hit boy group TFBoys to singer Kris Wu and actress Fan Bingbing also posted comments on a post from the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League supporting the hashtag that had been reposted more than 5 million times.

In one comment, Hong Kong actor William Chan wrote, "Please read it, Chinese Taiwan."

Chinese netizens also swamped Fu's Facebook page, with one writing, "As soon as Taiwan declares independence, we can fight."

Local politics

The controversy was sparked one week before Taiwan holds its so-called "nine-in-one elections".

It is generally believed that the pro-independence Democratic Progress Party (DPP) aims to make use of the verbal fight between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan to rally support from voters, according to Singapore-based The Union.

"The DPP is likely to create an atmosphere that Beijing is ramping up efforts to suppress Taiwan and even intervene in the island's election, which might evoke Taiwan people's resentment to the communist regime."

Although mainland authorities have often said they don't care about who takes office in Taiwan, the Kuomintang (KMT), a party claims to uphold the one-China policy, is obviously in the interest of Beijing, the newspaper noted.

The Global Times on Sunday published an Internet article on its official WeChat account, warning mainland officials and civilians against falling into the trap of the DPP.

"Let us not wage a public opinion war at this crucial moment," the commentary said, adding that "our acts might lead to the victory of some pro-independence candidates."

Complex history

Chinese mainland and Taiwan have been governed separately since the end of the Chinese Civil War nearly 70 years ago.

The government in Beijing considers Taiwan, an US ally, a breakaway province that must be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.

In 1992, the Kuomintang-led Taiwanese government and the Communist Party of China (CPC)-led central government signed the 1992 Consensus in Singapore, acknowledging that both sides of the Taiwan Strait are part of "one China."

After pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DDP) headed by Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, cross-Strait relations have worsened, and many economic and cultural exchanges between two sides have been halted.

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