Chinese movie stars and directors have been ordered by Beijing to boycott a prestigious film festival in Taiwan, known as the ‘Asia’s Oscars’.
China’s film regulator said today it was blocking the mainland movie industry from participating in Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards without a giving a reason, in the latest sign of rising tensions between Beijing and the self-ruled island.
The China Film News, a magazine published by the China Film Administration, made the announcement on its official WeChat account, citing the China Film Administration.
China has blocked its actors and directors from participating in the upcoming Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan. The Chinese-language film festival has been branded as the ‘Asia’s Oscars’ and its previous winners include Ang Lee who won the Best Director award in 2007 (pictured)
‘China Film Administration says that it will suspend mainland movies and their personnel from participating in 2019′ 56th Golden Horse Awards,’ said the post.
The move comes after the annual event, the Chinese-speaking world’s version of the Oscars, last year became a lightning rod for questions about Taiwanese independence, sparking a debate between Taiwanese and mainland stars as well as netizens.
Director Fu Yue, a pro-Taiwan independence filmmaker, said in her acceptance speech that her ‘biggest hope’ as a Taiwanese was for ‘our country to be recognised as an independent entity’.
Ms Fu won the Best Documentary award for her film ‘Our Youth in Taiwan’.
The 36-year-old director’s speech at the ceremony in Taipei was quickly censored and cut off on television as well as live-stream platforms in mainland China, according to local media.
Taiwanese director Fu Yue (left) delivers a speech next to producer Hong Ting Yi after she won Best Documentary for her film ‘Our Youth in Taiwan’ at the 55th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, Taiwan, in November 2018. Her speech ignited controversy and was censored by Beijing
Taiwan’s director Fu Yue (right) poses backstage after winning Best Documentary for her movie ‘Our Youth in Taiwan’ at the 55th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei. Fu said her ‘biggest hope’ as a Taiwanese was for ‘our country to be recognised as an independent entity’
The state of ties between Beijing and the self-ruled island has since become tenser, with China announcing that it would stop issuing individual travel permits for Taiwan to Chinese travellers last week, dealing a blow to the island’s tourism industry.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said that the travel ban aimed to manipulate the island’s presidential elections in January.
‘We certainly would feel regret if it was true,’ Taiwan’s Golden Horse Film Festival said in a statement, adding that related events will be held as scheduled.
The 56th Golden Horse Awards ceremony will be held in Taipei on November 23.
The Golden Horse Awards was founded in 1962 and is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the Chinese-speaking film industry. Many mainland Chinese celebrities, such as Fan Bingbing (left) and Zhang Ziyi (right), have attended the festival in Taipei in the past
Beijing has been using the international stage to assert its sovereignty over the island amid rising Chinese pressure, which also includes military drills. Taipei repeatedly said the Chinese moves were aiming to manipulate the island’s presidential elections in January.
‘From an industry point of view, the Golden Horse was a good platform for exchanges on films among mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong,’ said Dong Shu, a Shanghai-based film critic.
‘But some people in Taiwan had to get politically sensitive content on it, things that crossed red lines for mainland China, thus the nature of this award has been changed.’
The Golden Horse Awards was founded in 1962 and is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the Chinese-speaking film industry, with submissions mainly coming from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
China announced last week that it would stop issuing individual travel permits for Taiwan to Chinese travellers. A tourist is pictured taking photo at the Liberty Square in Taipei in 2018
Last year, Chinese movie ‘Dying to Survive’ won and was nominated in seven award categories, while Chinese director Zhang Yimou won best director for his period film ‘Shadow’.
Previous winning artists also included ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ director Ang Lee, who was awarded Best Director in 2007 for his period drama ‘Lust, Caution’.
Taiwan is self-governed and has a democratically elected leadership, but China claims the island as a breakaway province and has not ruled out the use of force to ensure unification. The question of Taiwan’s formal independence is one of Beijing’s most sensitive political concerns.
China’s content regulator has also been taking an extra-cautious stance over its media industry in the run-up to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic, on October 1, pulling off a few blockbusters and banning ‘entertainment-driven’ historical dramas and idol dramas.
‘Using tourists as political tools would only create antipathy in Taiwanese people,’ said Taiwan’s President (pictured), adding Beijing aimed to manipulate Taiwan’s coming elections
Reports of the suspension soon became a trending topic on China’s Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging service, with one related hashtag receiving more than 240 million views as of writing.
‘Taiwan made this award political first, don’t we have a right to punch back?’ said a Weibo commentator.
Others expressed disappointment at the decision.
‘Politics aside, this is a lose-lose situation. There isn’t an impartial and matchable award in mainland China, what a pity!’ said another commentator.
A total of 685 films, including 148 full-length dramas, 104 documentaries and five animations, have signed up to compete in this year’s Golden Horse Awards, according to the organiser.