TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Recent controversies surrounding Taiwanese celebrities such as Dee Hsu (徐熙娣) and Ning Chang (張鈞甯) may be the product of certain political forces’ manipulation, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said at a routine press conference on Wednesday (Sept. 15).
“Online hypes targeting Taiwanese celebrities with normal careers in China make citizens in China and Taiwan highly suspect that certain political forces on the island are intentionally seeking trouble,” spokesperson Zhu Fenglian (朱鳳蓮) said. She added that these “political forces” intend to interfere with Taiwanese celebrities’ “normal careers” and sabotage the cultural interaction atmosphere.
Zhu’s claims were in response to a UDN reporter, who asked what internet censors and the Taiwan Affairs Office intended to do about Chinese netizens’ attack on Dee Hsu and Ning Chang.
UDN said the "Little Pinks’" (online Chinese nationalists) campaigns against Taiwanese celebrities meant they cannot enjoy a career in China and described Weibo users who find ways to attack Taiwan as “tumors” lodged in Taiwan-China relations. However, Zhu immediately denied that Taiwanese celebrities cannot find success in China, and said the statement was “completely groundless.”
“We continually and actively support cultural exchange and cooperation between Taiwan and China, and warmly welcome Taiwanese actors to work in China,” Zhu said.
Dee Hsu, also known as "Little S," faced backlash for supporting Taiwans' "national atheletes." (CNA photo)
When Dee Hsu, a renowned Taiwanese talk show host who, in recent years, mainly works in China, posted a social media comment to celebrate Taiwan’s “national athletes” during the Tokyo Olympics, she was met with backlash in China that resulted in her losing brand endorsement deals.
Around a month later, a Chinese internet troll found Ning Chang’s master’s thesis entitled “The legal issues regarding management of entertainers’ agents in our nation,” generating public outrage in China. Chang was forced to issue a statement emphasizing that she “always firmly believes her status of being Chinese.”
The title of Ning Chang's master's thesis became a source of controversy in China. (Weibo, Ning Chang photo)
Most if not all Taiwanese celebrities with a career in China have had to declare their loyalty towards the Chinese government and claim their “Chinese” identity. Those who dared say no would immediately have doors closed in their faces.
In 2019, Taiwanese influencer Potter King (波特王) was shut down by his Chinese business partner after he hosted Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in one of his Youtube videos, in which he referred to her by the title “President.” He announced later that though this impacted his monthly income, “we really can’t bring ourselves to kowtow to this.”
Potter King repeatedly refers to President Tsai Ing-wen by her title when Tsai visited his company. (Youtube, Potter King video)
As China continues to crack down on its entertainment industry and target “misbehaving” celebrities, the public speculated that the government would take action against celebrities who hold foreign citizenship. In September, Hong Kong-born actor Nicholas Tse renounced his Canadian citizenship to appease the CCP.