What you need to know
'I was accused of posing offensively in front of a flag. I would also like to confirm, absolutely, that I am not in the picture.'
Kiko Mizuhara, 25, also known as Audrie Daniel, released a video on Friday in an apparent attempt to appease the Chinese online community, which was, she says, “upset” over “recent events.”
“I would like to sincerely apologize to everyone in China," Mizuhara says in the video.
She refers to several images that have been widely viewed on social media – including one dating back three years. Two of the politically sensitive images are understood to involve an imperial Japanese flag and a "middle finger" being pointed at Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
In two of those, in what she describes as “incidents,” Mizuhara, a Japan-based Japanese-American actress, clarifies that she is not the person in the image.
“I was accused of posing offensively in front of a flag. I would also like to confirm, absolutely, that I am not in the picture,” she says.
Referring to the other “regrettable” incident, she says she "liked" a friend’s Instagram picture in 2013 after encouraging him to use Instagram. But she later removed the like.
“I was supporting his post by giving him ‘likes,’ but regrettably found out he had posted an extremely inappropriate picture. I deleted my ‘like’ within an hour,” she says, adding that her friend removed the Tiananmen picture “after realizing he was wrong.”
During the nearly five-minute video, Mizuhara talks about her multicultural background, makes several references to being a “supporter of peace” as well as bowing in apology to “everyone.”
The video currently has over 10,000 views on YouTube and 89,000 shares on Weibo.
Hurting Chinese feelings
On Friday, Taiwanese actor Leon Dai (戴立忍) was dropped from the “No Other Love” film production after weeks of pressure online and a threat of boycott by Chinese ultranationalists.
Chinese netizens and the Chinese Communist Youth League launched a boycott of the movie late last month, accusing Dai of supporting Taiwanese independence and Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement.
Dai, 49, and the film studio denied he supported Taiwanese independence. The film’s director, Vicky Zhao (趙薇), stated separately that Dai has long been known in China and has taken part in several film projects with Chinese producers over the years.
Despite initially backing Dai and the fact that production was well underway, the studio announced on Friday that it had decided to replace Dai. According to Hollywood Reporter, “No Other Love” is partially financed by the filmmaking division of Alibaba.
The case is not the first time this year in which a foreign entertainer appears to have been forced to apologize for "offending" audiences in the lucrative Chinese market.
In January, Chou Tzu-yu (周子瑜), a Taiwanese teenager and member of K-pop girl group TWICE, was slammed in China for holding the Nationalist flag on a South Korean TV show. She later apologized in an online video, which was released by her South Korean management company, and said “there is only one China.”
New Bloom editor Brian Hioe notes that while some nationalistic Chinese netizens may celebrate these apologies, in Hong Kong and Taiwan the cases can lead to “outrage” and people’s “identity as non-Chinese.”
“Indeed, campaigns of persecution from nationalistic Chinese netizens probably tend to lead to the reinforcement of non-Chinese identity and are in this way somewhat self-defeating,” Hioe says.
First Editor: J. Michael Cole
Second Editor: Olivia Yang