China bans film industry from Asian awards ceremony held in Taiwan

China bans film industry from Asian awards ceremony held in Taiwan

China has banned its movies and actors from participating in Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards, one of the Asian film industry’s most prestigious honours. 

The one-sentence announcement on China Film News, a newspaper affiliated with the government film regulator, gave no reason for the suspension, but it comes amid rising tensions over Taiwan’s refusal to recognise being part of Chinese territory to eventually be brought under Beijing’s rule. 

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Chinese participation was already in doubt following last year’s ceremony, which was marked by Chinese displeasure over remarks by documentary director Fu Yue.

In her acceptance speech, she called on the world to recognise Taiwan as an independent country, something only a handful of nations currently do. 

Chinese participants refused to appear on stage, made pointed remarks about Taiwan and China being members of the same family and then declined to attend the banquet reception following the show. 

Asked about the announcement, the organising committee told The Associated Press that it was disappointed but the show would go on as scheduled. 

“The Committee regrets to be informed of the news, if it is confirmed. The jury process of Golden Horse Awards is ongoing and will continue as planned, and all Golden Horse events will take place as usual.” 

Chinese entrants have been big winners at the show since they were first invited to attend in 1996, with China’s Xu Zheng winning best actor last year for his work in Dying to Survive. 

Ms Fu set off a firestorm of criticism in China after she said during her acceptance speech that her biggest hope was for “our country” to be regarded as an “independent entity”.

Her film Our Youth in Taiwan won best documentary at the awards. 

Taiwan split from mainland China amid civil war in 1949, but Beijing considers the self-ruled island part of its territory. 

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who is loathed by Beijing for her pro-independence stance, expressed her support for Ms Fu, saying in a Facebook post that the annual awards highlight the freedoms that set Taiwan apart from China. 

“Here [in Taiwan] there aren’t people who will disappear or be silenced for expressing differing viewpoints,” she wrote, “and we also don’t have sensitive terms that are censored on the internet.” 

Academy Award-winning Taiwanese director Ang Lee, whose films include Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain and who chaired the awards committee, appeared to anticipate the backlash to Ms Fu’s speech. He told reporters after the ceremony: ”I hope that no one will come to interfere [with the awards].”

Entertainment industry figures in Taiwan and Hong Kong have routinely been blacklisted and had their work banned from mainland China after they expressed pro-independence or pro-democracy views.

Along with cutting numbers of Chinese visitors to Taiwan, China has been luring away the island’s remaining diplomatic allies and preventing its representatives from participating in international gatherings.

Culture and sports events have also become targets, with Taiwan last year losing the right to hold the East Asian Youth Games, under reported pressure from China.

Associated Press

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