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China and Taiwan reacts to the national flag incident

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The hottest topic in China and Taiwan’s social media in recent days is the “National flag incident” in which Taiwanese singer Ziyu Zhou holds Taiwan’s national flag and introduces herself as Taiwanese instead of Chinese, and insists that Taiwan is a country. After the video of Zhou’s remarks was released, Internet users on Chinese and Taiwanese social media started ongoing quarrels, with China’s official news agency published articles criticizing “Taiwan separationist” and Taiwan’s independence supporters and candidates for the election from three major parties all expressed support for Ziyu Zhou. Taiwan’s president in office, Ma Ying-jeou also made a public statement that this should not threaten the friendship between Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese. President Ma also says, the citizen of the Republic of China (Taiwan’s official name) should be proud of their identity and not be hurt by expressing their national pride. He pints out that embracing the Republic of China is not the same as supporting Taiwan’s independence.

Ziyu Zhou is 16 years old, born in Tainan, she is a member of the singer group “Twice” in South Korea. Right after the incident broke out, her agent company JYP released apology letter and video. In the video, Zhou wears a black top and she looks tried and sad. She says to the camera:” there is only one China, Taiwan and Mainland is one country, I am proud to be a Chinese. As a Chinese, my wrongful behavior abroad caused great damage to my company and to the feelings of Taiwan and Mainland’s people, I am very sorry and ashamed. I’ve decided to cancel all my activities in Mainland China to take time and reflect on my faults. Here I offer my sincere apology to you all.” Zhengyong Park, the CEO of the South Korean entertainment and agent company JYP also posed an apology to Chinese audience: “ I leaned that we must respect a country’s sovereignty, culture history and people’s feelings when we want to do business with that country.” He also says:“Ziyu came to Korea when she was 13, my company and I did not teach her well for her parents, this is the mistake of my company and myself.”

This incident started when the pro-unite Taiwanese singer Ann Huang accused Ziyu Zhou of being a separationist on his social media account on January 8th. Huang’s post was shared more then 15 thousand times on Chinese social media, many Internet users started to wrote posts supporting Huang and condemning Zhou. Zhou was planned to come to China for a cell phone commercial, and the cell phone company immediately cancelled their contract after the incident broke out.

Within a week, the scale and impact of this incident surprised everyone. Zhou’s agency released public apology and cancelled all of her activities in Mainland China. They also changed Zhou’s birthplace on her online profile from “Taiwan” to “Taiwan, China”.

Zhou’s apologizing video shocked many Taiwanese, they fiercely commented on social media and condemned Mainland China for forcing a little girl to apology publicly for something that was not her fault. Internet users in Mainland China and Taiwan started intensive quarrel on social media. Many Taiwanese Internet users criticize Mainland Chinese for bullying Zhou, and condemning the Korean company for being bought by Chinese money. Some Chinese Internet users argue that Zhou was merely performing in front of camera instead of apologizing from sincerely, and that she should be banned form ever coming to Mainland China for commercial reasons. This incident led Internet users to question other Taiwanese entertainers and celebrities’ political stands, a few of them made public statement on social media to clarify their non-political stand on this issue. On the other hand, many Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese internet users start to criticize the singer Ann Huang, who acted like a “red guard in the cultural revolution” and created conflict by stirring this incident and reporting other Taiwanese public figures on social media; many believe that this kind of behavior would make Mainland China and Taiwan increasingly mistrust and disrespect each other.

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