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Taipei Ningxia Night Market draws fire for Chinese 'Subject 3' TikTok dance-off

Night market apologizes for causing 'trouble,' but going ahead with competition

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Haidilao employees perform "Subject 3" dance. (YouTube, 江西好青年 screenshot)

Haidilao employees perform "Subject 3" dance. (YouTube, 江西好青年 screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taipei Ningxia Night Market has apologized for causing "trouble" after receiving backlash over its competition based on a popular Chinese TikTok dance but said it will go ahead with the event.

The Chinese dance "Subject 3" (Kemusan, 科目三) has become popular on TikTok and other Chinese social media platforms. The full name of the dance is "Guangxi Subject 3," which was part of the driving school examination in Guangxi and the moves originated from a wedding performance in Guangxi that was later popularized by a Douyin creator in June 2023, per Storm Media.

On Monday (Jan. 15), the Ningxia Night Market in a Facebook post announced it will hold a Subject 3 dance competition on Jan. 25. A judging panel composed of students and association members will select the top three contestants based on the number of performers per team, dance moves, style, and "eye-catching elements." The first prize is a NT$5,000 giant Easy Card.

The post drew criticism from some netizens and led to heated online debates. Much of the criticism centered around suspicions that the dance was being used as a propaganda ploy by the Chinese government to condition Taiwanese youths into accepting annexation by China.

Comments included: "dancing to unify Taiwan with China," "corrupt morals," and "Did they take money from China? China is notorious for pulling these kinds of schemes." However, others expressed interest in either competing or watching the competition, while the quota for 20 participating teams and standby slots had already been reached.

In a message sent to the media on Thursday (Jan. 18), the Taipei City Ningxia Night Market Tourism Association responded to the controversy by saying it sincerely apologizes for holding this event at an "inappropriate time," reported CNA. It said that it has taken note of the opinions of numerous netizens, both optimistic and opposing views.

However, the association said that in the past, it has previously organized numerous dance competitions and performances in conjunction with current events. They have featured popular songs from Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, it said.

Every year, the night market co-hosts an event with Dadaocheng Theater that combines traditional Taiwanese opera with night market snacks, it added.

The association pointed out that the intention of organizing the Subject 3 dance competition was to attract more Taiwanese youth through music, dance, and food in a "healthy and fun way," aiming to connect with the younger generation. The association said Taiwan is a multicultural and open democratic country, inevitably engaging in international cultural exchanges.

The association expressed confidence it could promote Taiwan's unique culture and reduce the risk of conflicts through cultural exchanges, thereby expanding the country's visibility on the international stage.

Despite the controversy, the association said that the Subject 3 competition will still be held and they are planning an event centered around the song "Bobee" 保庇 by Taiwanese singer Lotus Wang (王彩樺) to promote Taiwan's local temple fair culture. The organization expressed its hope that it can work together with the outside world to showcase the positive aspects of Taiwan.

The association closed by saying, "For the recent trouble caused, we once again express our sincerest apologies."