Taiwanese Star Fired from Chinese Movie for 'Separatism'

Taiwanese Star Fired from Chinese Movie for 'Separatism'
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Another day, another Taiwanese artist barred from performing in China.

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A Taiwanese actor has been removed from the cast of a Chinese movie after netizens in China uncovered Facebook posts showing the actor supporting political activism in Taiwan in 2014, and said they would refuse to watch the movie, Taiwan’s state-run Central News Agency reports.

Irene Chen (陳艾琳) was cast by director Chen Lingsi (陳菱思) earlier this month for one of the lead roles in GF Vending Machine (女友販賣機). The film started production on Oct. 15.

The director announced via Weibo, however, that Chen was fired after shooting had started.

The director said the production company will never respect artists who support Taiwan's independence. She added that the best way to solve the problem was to cancel the actor’s contract and not hire her, nor anyone else who supports "separatism," in future.

Chen came under attack by Chinese netizens after she promoted the movie on her rarely used Weibo account on Oct. 22. The netizens left angry comments and recited her old posts on Facebook saying, “I am Taiwanese,” and other comments in support of Taiwan’s 2014 Sunflower Movement. They also criticized earlier comments where she said she did not care about making money in China.

Chen wrote on Facebook on Oct. 22 that she will take full responsibility for what she said, and that she was sorry the director and the production team had been criticized.

The director, aware of the online reaction, issued an apology on Oct. 23. She assured the Chinese public that the whole production team is Chinese and apologized for not doing a proper "background check" on Irene Chen.

Chen returned to Taiwan today. She has yet to comment on the issue. Her ordeal follows a wave of patriotism from Chinese netizens earlier in the year.

In July, Taiwanese actor Leon Dai (戴立忍) was removed from a film project in China due to his alleged pro-Taiwan independence ideology.

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

Taiwanese Chou Tzu-yu (周子瑜), fell victim to a similar online campaign. In January, Chou, a teenage Taiwanese member of K-pop group TWICE was slammed for holding the Taiwanese flag on a South Korean TV show. She later "apologized" in an online video saying, “There is only one China.”

Taiwanese director Wu Nien-chen (吳念真) had to postpone a theater tour in China in March due to “political sensitivities.”

The issue has not been consigned only to Taiwanese.

Japanese-American actress Kiko Mizuhara apologized in July over her involvement with images on social media deemed offensive by the Chinese online community. Mizuhara, 25, also known as Audrie Daniel, released a video in an apparent attempt to appease the Chinese online community. 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.

Tens of thousands of Taiwanese netizens responded by signing up to a satirical Facebook event to offer “apologies” to China.

▶ See also: "A Patriotic July in China"
After Taiwanese Artists, South Koreans Are Now the Targets of China’s Wrath

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole

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