Taiwanese film director Chen Yu-hsun (陳玉勳) has denied accusations leveled at him by Chinese news website Guancha.cn that he is a supporter of Taiwanese independence. His denial, made via a statement on Facebook, comes as his fourth feature film, “The Village of No Return,” is set to be released in cinemas on Jan. 28.

“The Village of No Return” is co-funded by interests in Taiwan and China, and features actors from both countries.

Chinese media have for some time accused the award-winning filmmaker of backing Taiwanese independence, based on his support of the 2014 Sunflower Movement — which opposed the signing of a services and trade pact between Taiwan and China and led to the occupation of the Legislative Yuan by protesters — but until now the director has remained silent about the issue.

Chen's sudden address of the accusations has led some in Taiwan to speculate that he has faced pressure from Beijing, Chinese-language Liberty Times reports.

In his statement, published on Facebook yesterday, Chen said that he did not oppose the trade and services pact, but was instead opposed to the pact being passed without a clause-by-clause review. “I have never had ideas of Taiwan independence or supported the Taiwan independence cause,” he wrote.

Chen said that his comments on the Sunflower Movement were “twisted and taken out of context” by the Chinese media and netizens. “I now realize the extent of the breakdown in cross-Strait relations and the impact it has on my wish for cross-Strait cooperation in the film industry,” Chen wrote.

Chen is not the first from Taiwan's artistic community to be targeted by Chinese in the past 12 months.

In January 2016, Chou Tzu-yu (周子瑜), a Taiwanese K-pop star from the South Korean group TWICE, was accused of being pro-Taiwanese independence after she was filmed holding a Republic of China flag on a television show. Her performances in China were canceled after the accusations, and she also lost an endorsement deal with Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei. Chou later released a video apology for her actions.

Later in July 2016, Taiwanese actor Leon Dai (戴立忍) was dropped as the lead actor from the film “No Other Love” mid-production, after the director, Chinese actress Vicky Zhao (趙薇), was attacked by the Communist Youth League. Chinese netizens and the Communist Youth League accused Dai of supporting Taiwanese independence and the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement.

Chen's previous films have been awarded the Golden Horse Award for Best Script ("Tropical Fish") and Best Supporting Actor and Actress ("Love Go Go").

Editor: Edward White