Chinese streaming service cancels Taiwanese TV series that portrays Sunflower Movement

The second episode of the series, which discusses freedom of the press and one of the most important social mobilizations in Taiwan's recent history, is said to be too sensitive.

Screen capture of the trailer of "Days We Stared at the Sun II" (Source: Youtube channel of Public Television Service)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwan site of iQiyi (愛奇藝), a Chinese streaming platform, pulled off the Taiwanese television series “Days We Stared at the Sun II” (他們在畢業的前一天爆炸2) after broadcasting the first episode July 29, leading people to speculate that the cancellation of the series was due to the fact that the series’ second episode, whose context is largely based on the Sunflower Movement in 2014, is too politically sensitive for the platform.

The second episode of “Days We Stared at the Sun II” discusses freedom of the press and portrays students protesting against the authorities, a mobilization later known as the Sunflower Movement.

iQiyi said on August 5 in a statement that they replaced the series with “Lion Dance” (起鼓.出獅), a mini-series about a lion dance troupe in Taiwan, in order to maintain the channel's distinction from other platforms, adding that they hoped to bring more diverse contents to the audience.

Apart from Public Television Service (PTS,公視) and previously iQiyi Taiwan, “Days We Stared at the Sun II” is also broadcasting on two other streaming platforms: Line TV and KKTV.

PTS, a Taiwan’s public broadcasting company that produced “Days We Stared at the Sun II”, said they had sold the broadcasting rights to iQiyi and delivered all of its episodes as scheduled. However, whether or not iQiyi would broadcast them on their platform was beyond their control.

Fan Shih-Ping (范世平), professor at the Graduate Institute of Political Science at National Taiwan Normal University, said in an interview with PTS that because the Sunflower Movement had great influence on the 2014 Umbrella Movement as well as the pro-independence movement in Hong Kong, it is extremely sensitive in the eyes of Beijing.

iQiyi, a streaming platform belonging to Baidu, was founded in 2010. In 2015, iQiyi started providing services in Taiwan through its Taiwan website, the first overseas website the platform established.

The Sunflower Movement that took place in March 2014 was a student protest which developed into a mass mobilization joined by scholars and people from different backgrounds. The activists protested against the swift passing of the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA), an agreement that was feared to compromise Taiwan’s interest in the dealing with China, by the ruling party Kuomintang at the time.