Taiwan’s glove puppetry show draws ire of Chinese netizens over ‘Wuhan virus’

Puppeteer insists on calling coronavirus ‘Wuhan virus,’ enrages Chinese netizens

Pili collaborates with Netflix.

Pili collaborates with Netflix. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A celebrated glove puppetry show in Taiwan has sparked an outcry from the Chinese online community and been forced to apologize for labeling the coronavirus the "Wuhan virus."

A puppeteer of Pili International Multimedia, a glove puppetry production company, recently wrote in a Facebook post that the novel virus COVID-19 should be called the Wuhan virus in Chinese. The claim immediately drew fire from Chinese netizens on the social media platform Weibo, who have vehemently called for an explanation, reported Liberty Times.

Some netizens even went so far as to accuse Pili of supporting Taiwan independence, citing remarks by the company's Chairman Chris Huang (黃強華), who said in an interview that “Taiwan is a country of cultural diversity,” according to the report.

Pili program host Hsiao Di (小狄) has also been panned by Chinese online users for saying on his show on Tuesday (March 24) that “Taiwan and Singapore have been hailed as the safest 'countries' in the virus outbreak.” The remarks have been interpreted by some as intended to “drive apart people from the two sides of the Taiwan Strait,” with some threatening to boycott the show.

The incident led Hsiao Di to apologize and resign as host for what he called “failing his supporters and hurting the feelings of Chinese audience.” Pili International Multimedia also made a formal apology Tuesday night for lax censorship and announced the suspension of the program.

Pili is dedicated to the promotion of traditional Taiwanese puppetry culture while breaking boundaries, manifested by its effort to incorporate literature, martial arts, and special effects. Boasting one of the most iconic images of Taiwanese culture, it has become well-established and popular both in Taiwan and China.