Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Taiwanese identity in the spotlight

The head of the Taiwanese delegation at the Tokyo International Film Festival said in no uncertain terms that Taiwanese would refuse to go by the name 'Taiwan, China' or 'Chinese Taipei,' but according to the head of the Chinese delegation, the ensuing spat was all Tokyo's fault

Maybe it’s something in the water, but Chinese officials have developed the bad habit of airing their extreme nationalistic tendencies with a little more boldness when they find themselves in Japan, resulting in situations that often undermine Beijing’s objectives.

The latest such incident occurred on Saturday at the 23rd Tokyo International Film Festival, when the head of the Chinese delegation, Jiang Ping (江平), accompanied by a robotic-looking Chinese actress, attempted to drill into the heads of the Taiwanese delegation that they were all Chinese. Faced with the refusal of Government Information Office Department of Motion Pictures director Chen Chih-kuan (陳志寬), who headed the Taiwanese delegation, and the organizers of the film festival to change Taiwan’s name to “Taiwan, China” or “Chinese Taipei,” an outraged Jiang announced that China was partially pulling out of the festival.

The Chinese delegation decided to pull out of festival-related events because the organizers “covertly violated the ‘One China’ policy Jiang was quoted as saying by the Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party-run publication.

Interestingly, Jiang was also quoted as saying that the spat, and the decision to pull out of the film festival, had “nothing to do with our Taiwan compatriots” and was rather “the fault of the Tokyo organizers.”

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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