Taiwanese actor Leon Dai, who played the lead character in Chinese romance ‘No Other Love’, was fired from the film for his alleged support of Taiwanese independence, reported Variety on 15 July 2016.
In a statement, the film’s director Zhao Wei and investors apologised “for hiring the wrong person” and stated they were not “satisfied” with the actor’s position on the issue after he failed to “provide a fuller explanation to the public and state his stance more clearly on important issues”.
The director and the entire crew dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to China. We are all Chinese, and we firmly support the one China policy. Our country’s interests are our top priorities […] Any ambiguous stance over the country and national identity is intolerable.
Dai stated that while he spoke out on gay rights and nuclear power issues in Taiwan, it would be “inaccurate” to label him as a Taiwan independence supporter, and that he is “against oppression” and respects “the views of other people”. He added that he is “a proud citizen of China” and that he is not affiliated with any political party.
During the Taiwanese election, it was never my concern which party took the majority in the legislative council. What I care about are the policies. Do they help every day citizens? Do they promote equality? Improve people’s standard of living? This is what I care about.
As an additional repercussion, Dai’s cameo performance in another romantic film, ‘At Café 6’, was deleted from the film prior to its release on mainland China on 29 July 2016, and another film, ‘The Peaceful Island’, starring Dai, which was set to release in China on the same day, no longer has a scheduled release date in the country, reported government-authorised news portal China.org.cn on 22 July 2016.
The news portal also reported that actress Mizuhara Kiko was also removed from the cast of ‘No Other Love’ after accusations of her being anti-China. Kiko has since released a video apology to the Chinese public.
Wei’s film, financed by Alibaba Picture Group and other mainland China companies, had already completed principal photography and had begun post-production when the decision was made to fire Dai, which means the film will require significant re-shooting.
Online monitoring for dissent
Recently, Chinese nationalist groups, including the Communist Youth League, have taken to the internet, monitoring celebrities’ patriotic messages and posts, or lack thereof; many called for a boycott of Wei’s film if Dai and Kiko were not removed.
Online reports featured photos, reports and media coverage of Dai participating in or supporting Taiwan’s Sunflower Student Movement, Hong Kong’s Occupy Central and gala shows put on by Falun Gong, a spiritual practice banned in China and one that authorities label as a “cult”, reported The Wall Street Journal on 18 July 2016 and China.org.cn on 22 July 2016.
While Taiwan – also called Republic of China (ROC) – has been a sovereign state since 1949, mainland China – People’s Republic of China (PRC) – still considers Taiwan a part of PRC.
A history of political pressure
This is not be the first time that China cancels or forces changes to artists and their work based on political standpoints, including on topics such as Hong Kong, Taiwan or Tibet.
In January 2016, Taiwanese teen pop star Chou Tzuyu was banned from performing on China’s Anhui Spring Festival programme for holding up a Taiwanese flag during a TV performance in South Korea. She later posted an emotional apology on YouTube, saying “there is only one China”.
Further, China has forbidden numerous international musicians, most recently Lady Gaga in June 2016 and Selena Gomes in April 2016, from playing concerts in the country due to their stance on Tibet or for meeting the Dalai Lama.
China has also exerted pressure on art galleries to remove work that calls attention to such taboo subjects, most recently in Bangladesh in February 2016 when a Chinese ambassador took offense to an art exhibit in Dhaka featuring works on Tibet that were quickly pulled down.
Photo of Leon Dai (left) and Zhao Wei (right) posted on Wei’s social media Weibo page before Dai was fired
» China.org.cn – 22 July 2016:
Actor Leon Dai under fire for ‘Taiwan independence’
» The Wall Street Journal – 18 July 2016:
Taiwanese actor Leon Dai loses part in Zhao Wei film after political pressure in China
» Shanghaiist.com – 16 July 2016:
Taiwanese star removed from Chinese film for alleged pro-independence involvement
» Variety – 15 July 2016:
Taiwan actor Leon Dai dropped from Chinese film over politics
» The Hollywood Reporter – 15 July 2016:
Taiwanese star fired from Alibaba-backed Chinese film over politics
» The Guardian – 15 July 2016:
Taiwanese actor dropped from Chinese film after political outcry
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