18 February 2019
Netizens from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau offer tongue-in-cheek apologies on Facebook.  Photos: Reuters, Facebook
Netizens from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau offer tongue-in-cheek apologies on Facebook. Photos: Reuters, Facebook

Online spoof contest triggers outpouring of apologies to China

Apologies, apologies and more apologies.

This year has seen a growing number of entertainment artists issuing apologies to the Chinese people for offending them with “politically incorrect” statements or acts.

With apparently contrite hearts, these artists clarify that they have no intention of defying the “One China” principle or hurting the Chinese people’s political sensibilities.

Of course, what they don’t want to happen, although they don’t have to express this concern, is for someone to start a boycott campaign against their movies, albums or concerts in the vast China market.

That’s what they really are worried about.

At the rate these apologies are being made, a social activist from Taiwan, Wang Yi-kai, got so fed up that he decided to turn the matter into an online spoof contest.

On a Facebook account, Wang invited everyone to leave a message of apology to the Chinese people, and whoever gets the most number of “likes” will be proclaimed the “King (or Queen) of Apology to China”.

Soon enough, the contest, which was launched last Saturday, attracted a tsunami of entries from all over, but mostly from netizens in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

Most of the messages were devastatingly hilarious, and all of them intended to mock politically overzealous netizens in China.

Wang got the ball rolling with this statement of remorse: “I am sorry to China because Taiwan’s sky is so blue.” It was, of course, a dig at the serious air pollution in many of China’s urban centers.

Soon other entries from Taiwanese netizens poured in.

“I apologize for having ’6′ and ’4′ on my keyboard”, says one, referring to the bloody crackdown on student protesters in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

On the same theme, another message says: “I apologize for having studied the history of June 4 when I was a high school student.”

“I am really sorry you can’t see my apology on Facebook,” says another message, which is a jibe at the massive censorship of internet content on the mainland.

Entries from Hong Kong were equally biting.

“I am sorry we took the initiative to clean up your garbage on our beaches,” says one, referring to the rubbish from the mainland that found its way to the coastal areas of the city.

“Sorry for such a blue sky in Hong Kong,” says another.

“I apologize for having bought the ticket to Denise Ho [Wan-See]’s concert in October,” reads one message, referring to the Cantopop artist who lost a concert deal with French cosmetics brand Lancôme and a commercial contract with US mouthwash brand Listerine.

Netizens said companies had been pressured to drop Ho because of her association with the pro-democracy struggle in Hong Kong.

Unlike Ho, many entertainment artists have toed the line when it comes to dealing with Beijing.

In January, Taiwanese K-pop star Chou Tzu-yu made a video message on the eve of the island’s presidential election that she is a “Chinese” and that she regrets holding a Taiwan flag while appearing on a South Korean entertainment show late last year.

In the latest case, veteran Taiwanese actor Leon Dai was dropped from a Chinese film project, No Other Love, for allegedly supporting Taiwanese independence.

Japanese actress Kiko Mizuhara, who also performed in the movie, issued an apology to angry Chinese fans who had threatened to boycott the movie after she allegedly made controversial online statements.

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