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When Cross-Strait Politics Meet Entertainment: Pop Star Controversies

Cross-strait politics seem to have taken over China’s entertainment industry. This week, two pop stars from Taiwan have become the victim of ongoing political tensions between mainland China and Taiwan.

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Cross-strait politics seem to have taken over China’s entertainment industry. This week, two pop stars from Taiwan have become the victim of ongoing political tensions between mainland China and Taiwan.

Two Taiwanese entertainers, Chou Tzuyu (  周子瑜) and Show Luo (罗志祥), have come under attack by netizens from both sides of the strait this month. The two separate incidents occurred amidst the 2016 Taiwanese presidential elections, that were won by Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a party that has traditionally backed independence for Taiwan.

Last week, the 16-year-old Taiwanese pop star Chou Tzuyu angered many netizens from mainland China by waving a Taiwanese national flag on a Korean reality show. The netizens criticized her for supporting Taiwan’s independence by waving the flag, which prompted Chou to release a video on the eve of Taiwan’s presidential elections to apologize for her actions.

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The young singer stated: “I am Chinese, both sides of the strait are one and the same, and I will always be proud of the fact that I am Chinese.”

Chinese netizens saw the apology as a victory against Taiwan Independence while netizens from Taiwan voiced their support for Chou, saying that her apology seemed unnecessary and forced.

The incident, however, does not seem to have deterred the young pop sensation’s singing career. Instead, it has helped her gain more fame in South Korea and internationally – with the added bonus of a larger paycheck.

Taiwanese dancer, singer and actor Show Luo also stirred up cross-strait controversy this week by sharing his view on a collaboration between mainland China and Taiwan actors. At the premier of Luo’s new movie, one of the audience members asked Luo how it was to work together with actors from mainland China. “We don’t need to be so specific,” Luo answered: “because we are all Chinese.”

While the crowd in the theatre cheered and applauded Luo’s comment, Taiwanese netizens seemed less happy. They even created a Facebook page called “Anti Show Luo” with the purpose of urging his fans to “unlike” his Facebook page, after which Luo lost 40,000 Facebook fans. Many netizens from Taiwan and Hong Kong saw Luo’s comment as a way to win more fans from the mainland and to increase revenues.

Mainland China netizens, on the other hand, seemed pleased with Luo: the artist gained over 50,000 followers on his Weibo account.

Both Chou and Luo have had a tumultuous past week trying to please their fans on both sides of the Strait. Chou gained much approval from the people of Taiwan with her flag waving, but lost some of her popularity on the mainland. While Luo gained much praise and support from the mainland, he was condemned by the fans from Taiwan.

The two Taiwanese pop stars have walked away from their Cross-strait controversies with relatively little problems and some great rewards. They have also learned that pleasing everyone is simply impossible, especially in times when China-Taiwan relations are facing new tensions.

By Chi Wen

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Chi Wen is a freelance translator and writer who lives in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Besides translating and writing, he also teaches English as a Second Language to high school students. Chi is a self-proclaimed geek with a love for video games.

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China Celebs

Weibo Shuts Down Rumors of Tong Liya’s Alleged Marriage to CMG President Shen Haixiong

The censorship surrounding the Tong Liya story almost drew more attention than the actual rumors themselves.

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The famous actress and dancer Tong Liya (佟丽娅, 1983) has had an eventful year. After hosting the CCTV Spring Festival Gala in 2020, she performed at the CCTV Spring Festival Gala in February of 2021 and in May she announced that after seven years of marriage, she finalized her divorce with actor and director Chen Sicheng (陈思诚).

Tong Liya is of Xibe ethnicity and was born in Xinjiang. The former beauty pageant and award-winning actress is known for her roles in many films and TV series, such as those in The Queens and Beijing Love Story. She also starred in the 2021 Chinese historical film 1921, which focuses on the founding of the Communist Party of China.

This month, online rumors about Tong flooded the internet, alleging that she was recently remarried to Shen Haixiong (慎海雄, 1967), the deputy minister of the Party’s Central Propaganda Department and the President of the CMG (China Media Group), which includes CCTV, China National Radio, and China Radio International.

Some of the rumors included those claiming the actress was previously Shen’s mistress, or netizens connecting Tong Liya’s relations with such an influential and powerful person to her role at the previous CCTV Spring Gala Festival.

But these rumors did not stay online for long, and the quick censorship itself became somewhat of a spectacle. As reported by China Digital Times, the topic ‘Tong Liya’s Remarriage’ (‘佟丽娅再婚’) was completely taken offline.

Following the rumors and censorship, it first was announced that Tong reported the online rumors about her to the police, with the hashtag “Tong Liya Reports the Case to Authorities” (#佟丽娅报案#) receiving over 310 million clicks. On December 23rd, the hashtag “Beijing Police is Handling Tong Liya’s Report” (#北京警方受理佟丽娅报案#) went viral online, attracting over 1.7 billion (!) views on Weibo within three days.

The Beijing Haidian police statement on Weibo is as follows:

In response to the recent rumors on the Internet, the public security authorities have accepted Tong Liya’s report, and the case is now under investigation. The internet is not a place beyond the law, and illegal acts such as starting rumors and provoking trouble will be investigated and punished according to the law.”

The statement led to some confused responses among netizens who wanted to know more about what was actually reported and what it is the police are exactly ‘investigating.’

On Twitter, Vice reporter Viola Zhou wrote that the censorship “angered many young people,” some of whom lost their social media accounts for discussing Tong Liya’s second marriage: “It’s now prompting a mass pushback against the potential abuse of censorship power.”

In an attempt to circumvent censorship, and perhaps also ridicule it, some netizens even resorted to morse code to write about Tong Liya.

One Weibo post about the issue by Legal Daily received over 3000 comments, yet none were displayed at the time of writing.

The case is allegedly still being investigated by Beijing authorities.

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Celebs

China’s Livestreaming Queen Viya Goes Viral for Fraud and Fines, Ordered to Pay $210 Million

Viya, the Queen of Taobao, is under fire for tax evasion.

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Viya, one of China’s most well-known and successful live streamers, is trending today for allegedly committing tax fraud by deliberately providing false information and concealing personal income.

The ‘Taobao queen’ Viya (薇娅, real name Huang Wei 黄薇) reportedly committed tax fraud from 2019 to 2020, during which she evaded some 643 million yuan ($100 million) in taxes and also failed to pay an additional 60 million yuan ($9.4 million) in taxes.

The Hangzhou Tax Administration Office reportedly ordered Viya to pay an amount of over 1.3 billion yuan ($210 million) in taxes, late payment fees, and other fines. On Monday, a hashtag related to the issue had garnered over 600 million views on Weibo (#薇娅偷逃税被追缴并处罚款13.41亿元#).

Viya made headlines in English-language media earlier this year when she participated in a promotional event for Single’s Day on October 20th and managed to sell 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) in merchandise in just one live streaming session together with e-commerce superstar Lipstick King.

China has a booming livestreaming e-commerce market, and Viya is one of the top influencers to have joined the thriving online sales industry years ago. When the e-commerce platform Taobao started their Taobao Live initiative (mixing online sales with livestreams), Viya became one of their top sellers as millions of viewers starting joining her channel every single day (she livestreams daily at 7.30 pm).

With news about Viya’s tax fraud practices and enormous fines going viral on Chinese social media, many are attacking the top influencer, as her tax fraud case seems to be even bigger than that of Chinese actress Fan Bingbing (范冰冰).

Chinese actress Fan Bingbing went “missing” for months back in 2018 when she was at the center of a tax evasion scandal. The actress was ordered to pay taxes and fines worth hundreds of millions of yuan over tax evasion. The famous actress eventually paid approximately $128,5 million in taxes and fines, less than Viya was ordered to pay this month.

Like Fan Bingbing, Viya will also not be held criminally liable if the total amount is paid in time. This was the first time for the e-commerce star to be “administratively punished” for tax evasion.

Around 5pm on Monday, Viya posted a public apology on her Weibo account, saying she takes on full responsibility for the errors she made: “I was wrong, and I will bear all the consequences for my mistakes. I’m so sorry!”

It is not clear if she will still do her daily live stream later today and how this news will impact Viya’s future career.

Update: Vaya’s live stream was canceled.

Update 2: Vaya’s husband also issued an apology on Weibo.

Update 3: Taobao has suspended or ‘frozen’ (“冻结”) Vaya’s livestreaming channel. Her Taobao store is still online.

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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