Following an online campaign attacking Chinese actress-turned-director Vicky Zhao (趙薇) for starring Taiwanese actor Leon Dai (戴立忍) in her upcoming movie “No Other Love,” the film studio said in a press release on July 15 that it has decided to drop the actor while the movie is still in production.

Starting in late June, Chinese netizens and the Chinese Communist Youth League launched a boycott of Zhao’s movie, accusing Dai of supporting Taiwanese independence and Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement, among other things. Several nationalistic netizens observed that Zhao should put the state interest before “idol worship.”

In online posts, the film studio and Dai denied the 49-year-old director-turned-actor’s support for Taiwanese independence. Dai added that he has never joined any political party (though he has been active in social movements). In a separate post, Zhao stated that Dai has long been known in China and has taken part in several film projects with Chinese producers over the years.

Those efforts failed to sway the Chinese critics, who said Dai’s response on his political ideology remained “too vague.”

So the film studio gave in. In a microblog post on July 15, it announced that to quell public anger in China, it has decided to drop Dai, a Golden Horse winner, and replace him with another actor who will ostensibly be more palatable to Chinese nationalist taste. Given Dai’s principal role in the movie, which has been in production for months, several scenes will have to be completely redone, Apple Daily reported.

Responding to the development today, the Ministry of Culture said it found the turn of events regrettable, adding that the creation of culture should not be undermined by political obstacles. The Ministry said it looked forward to cross-strait cultural exchanges and hopes that culture and artists can be respected.

Editor: Edward White