China’s ultra-nationalistic Communist Youth League has launched an online campaign targeting actress-turned-director Vicki Zhao (趙薇) for her decision to cast a Taiwanese actor in her latest movie.

Zhao’s movie, “No Other Love,” will feature Leon Dai (戴立忍) as the lead actor. The Communist Youth League has used its website and social media accounts, like Weibo, to call for a boycott of the movie — as well as other movies Zhao is involved with. It alleges that Dai is a supporter of Taiwanese independence and the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong.

The nationalists also accused Dai of siding with the Sunflower Movement, which occupied Taiwan’s legislature in March and April 2014 over a controversial services trade agreement with China, and used footage of an interview Dai gave on the Falun Gong-funded NTDTV as “evidence” of his political beliefs.

According to the South China Morning Post, the League has released the titles of three upcoming movies featuring Dai, which suggests that additional boycotts may be in store.

Zhao, who denies any political motive in the move, has also come under attack on her Weibo account.

“The state interests come before idol worship. I have liked you for many years, but you should have known better,” one user wrote on her page.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the League’s campaign was launched last week with an article on Weibo, although the witch-hunt targeting Zhao reportedly began as early as April.

A Golden Horse Awards winner, Dai has a long history of support for Taiwan’s civil society, including the campaign against forced evictions in Dapu, Miaoli County, during the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) era.

The incident is reminiscent of the online campaign against Chou Tzu-yu (周子瑜), a 16-year-old Taiwan-born entertainer currently working in South Korea, earlier this year, in which she was accusing of supporting Taiwanese independence after she was photographed holding a Nationalist flag in a promo. The subsequent video apology, which drew comparisons with Islamic State “confessions,” sparked international outrage.

The Chou case was arguably an example of overzealous mid-level officials and highly-strung Chinese ultranationalists online taking the lead in defending China’s “honor” without being directly prompted by the state.

In other cases, the state took the initiative.

In 2008, China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television zeroed in on and blacklisted Chinese actress Tang Wei (湯唯) for her role in Taiwanese director Ang Lee’s (李安) World War II thriller “Lust, Caution,” whose sympathetic (read: “unpatriotic”) depiction of a romance between a Chinese woman and a spy for the Japanese (played by Tony Leung) was unpalatable to many Chinese.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Edward White