Politicians Weigh into Taiwan Teen Starlet Controversy

      January 18, 2016 12:10

      The Twitterstorm surrounding a teenage member of manufactured girl group TWICE who waved a Taiwanese flag in a webcast refuses to subside.

      Tzuyu (16) of of the nine-member multinational group has apologized for waving the flag in the webcast, but so vociferous has been the online response that politicians are now getting involved in the non-event.

      Taiwanese president-elect Tsai Ing-wen addressed the controversy in her first press conference after declaring victory. "Over the past couple of days some news has shaken society," Tsai told reporters. "A performer who was developing in [Korea], a 16-year-old girl, was set upon for holding the national flag. This has angered Taiwanese people."


      In China, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council responded by saying the incident was being "used" by certain political forces in Taiwan to "stir up the feelings of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait."

      China does not recognize Taiwan and maintains the fiction that it is merely a renegade part of the mainland. But Tsai said nobody has the right to prevent a Taiwanese national from waving the country's flag and the incident involving Tzuyu emboldened her resolve to make the island nation stronger. Tsai won the presidential election on a platform supporting independence from Chinese influence.

      The Twitterstorm erupted after Taiwanese singer Michael Huang, who is pro-Beijing, posted images on Weibo showing Tzuyu waving the Taiwanese flag. Chinese netizens accused her of supporting Taiwanese independence yet seeking to profit from selling the group's music in mainland China.

      Chinese authorities pressured JYP Entertainment, the talent factory that runs the girl group, into pulling her out of performances on the mainland. Tzuyu apologized on Friday. "There is only one China," she said. "I have always felt proud of being Chinese."

      That of course upset the Taiwanese in turn. Some karaoke bars in Taiwan are removing songs by Huang from their play lists, and over 10,000 Taiwanese netizens have pledged to attend a rally on Jan. 24 criticizing Huang.

      Huang, who lives in Beijing, said he plans to visit Taiwan next month and hold a press conference to explain himself. JYP Entertainment's website crashed on Sunday apparently due to a cyber attack.

      In 2012, the Taiwanese flag was also hoisted in the streets of London during the Summer Olympics but pulled down after protests from the Chinese government.

      In the Taiwanese presidential elections, the issue of Taiwanese independence versus closer ties with Beijing was one of the hottest issues of contention.

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