23 February 2019
Beijing is using its economic might to impose its sovereignty over the Greater China region. Photo: Reuters
Beijing is using its economic might to impose its sovereignty over the Greater China region. Photo: Reuters

Beijing piles the pressure on HK and Taiwan artists

China, under the Communist Party, considers Taiwan a renegade province, and intends to unify it with the mainland, by force if necessary.

It wants to impose its sovereignty over the Greater China region, despite the fact that the Communists have not ruled Taiwan since the the People’s Republic of China was established in October 1, 1949.

It is using its economic might, along with its vast market, to apply pressure on the island. 

This time around, it has chosen to focus on the entertainment sector.

Rumors have it that Beijing wants all artists and entertainers in Taiwan and Hong Kong to sign a loyalty pledge, that is, to promise not to issue any statement or get involved in any action that will seek to “separate” the nation, according to a report by Apple Daily Taiwan.

If an artist or entertainer refuses to sign such a pledge, they will not be able to perform or sell recordings of their performances in the mainland.

The report said the move will cover all directors, producers, musicians, performers and other players in the entertainment sector from Hong Kong and Taiwan.

They will be required to sign a declaration which says that they will not get involved in campaigns seeking secession from the mainland. 

Those who fail to sign the declaration will not be allowed to do any kind of business in China.

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the nation’s media regulator, has reportedly been tasked to oversee the implementation of this new requirement.

While Beijing has yet to make any formal announcement, many Taiwanese artists with business in the mainland said they have heard rumors to that effect.

Others believe that Beijing will not implement such an arrangement because it will only breed resentment and work against Beijing’s goal of reunification.

Beijing may not have made any move to require the loyalty pledge, but in reality, many artists from Taiwan and Hong Kong have suffered insults, shaming and condemnation on social media while losing hefty business deals as a result of some inadvertent remarks they have made or actions they have taken which mainland internet users consider as “unpatriotic”.

One clear example is the case of Leon Dai, an award-winning Taiwanese actor and director, who lost his part in No Other Love, a movie directed by mainland actress and filmmaker Zhao Wei, according to a statement released last Friday on the film’s official Weibo account.

Dai was eased out of the movie after mainland netizens accused him of supporting Taiwan independence as well as Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that is banned by Beijing.

Dai was forced to offer apologies to the Chinese people for his previous support to Taiwan’s civic campaign but refused to say sorry for declaring that Taiwan is his home country.

Earlier this year, Chou Tzu-yu, a 16-year-old Taiwanese singer in a Korean pop group, apologized after appearing with a Taiwanese national flag at a variety show on South Korean Television.

What’s wrong for Taiwanese artists declaring their identity and acknowledging their homeland? Why should they be pressured by mainlanders to choose between Taiwan and China?

Anywhere in the world, it is taken for granted that people show loyalty and patriotism to their homeland. Why should it be any different in Taiwan and Hong Kong?

That’s what’s wrong with China’s rulers. They want to bend people from other jurisdictions to their will, to force others to acknowledge their sovereignty and embrace their way of living.

They want to check the political loyalties of Hong Kong and Taiwan people, and force them to shut up or risk losing access to a market of 1.3 billion people.

But the reality is that Taiwan has its own government and set of rules. Its 23 million people have their own leaders and legislature.

This Beijing cannot accept. It wants Taiwan and its ruling Democratic Progressive Party to embrace the one-China policy and agree that the island is an inalienable part of China.

But in pressuring Taiwan and the government of democratically elected President Tsai Ing-wen, Beijing is only further alienating the Taiwanese people.

Beijing thinks that it has the economic, not to mention military, might to force other Chinese to yield to its rules, its values and way of life.

But that’s simply not how things work.

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EJ Insight writer

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