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Taipei-Born Actress Vivian Sung Causes Social Media Storm for Calling Taiwan Her “Favorite Country”

When celebrities speak out about Taiwan, drama ensues.

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Taipei-born actress Vivian Sung (宋芸樺) has attracted thousands of comments on Weibo this week for a comment she made about Taiwan being her “favorite country” in an older interview that has resurfaced on social media.

The actress Vivian Sung, who stars in China’s hit movie Hello Mr. Billionaire (西虹市首富), has caused quite the social media storm this week for saying Taiwan is her “favorite country” in a short interview clip that resurfaced on Chinese social media.

In the short clip, the young actress (b. 1992), is asked several short questions, one being: “What is your favorite country?” The actress then cheerfully answers: “My favorite country is Taiwan!”

According to Chinese publication The Observer (Guancha/观察者), the clip comes from 2015 and was made by Taiwanse entertainment channel MING WEEKLY, which often features quick fire question interview clips with celebrities – the interviewer asks short simple questions which the celebrities have to answer immediately.

Chinese media reporting on the issue said that by her answer, the actress was “casting doubts over a ‘Taiwanese independence'” (“台独”质疑); in other words, saying she was openly refuting the principle of “one country, two systems,” which, as Hong Kong, also defines Taiwan as part of China.

“What a low level mistake,” some commenters wrote: “How can you answer ‘Taiwan’ when you’re being asked about your favorite ‘country’?” Some crude comments called Sung a ‘sl*t’ who needs to “go back to where she came from.”

Despite much backlash, there were also many people on social media who said: “I bet if you ask most people from Taiwan what country they like most, they’ll answer Taiwan. In case they strongly identify with China, they’ll just say “the Republic of China.” (Taiwan is officially also called the Republic of China (ROC), whereas mainland China is the People’s Republic of China (PRC).)

“How can you blame her for loving the place where she comes from?”, others said.

Vivian Sung became popular after starring in Taiwanese movies such as Our Times (我的少女时代, 2015) and Café·Waiting·Love (等一个人咖啡, 2014). The recent Hello Mr. Billionaire, which has been dominating the Chinese box offices, was produced in mainland China.

 

“I love my native place, I love my motherland – the Cross-Straits will be one family forever.”

 

On August 2nd, the actress responded to the controversy on her Weibo account with self-critique and an emphasis on Taiwan and China being one country. She wrote:

Recently I’ve received a lot of attention and it has really shaken me up. I am Chinese, a post-90s Chinese girl. I come from Taiwan, and China is my home country. I am deeply sorry for [what I said during] that fast question interview before. Over recent years, it is because of your support that I’ve been able to work in mainland China. The variety of cultures and customs in different cities and regions [in China] deeply interest me and I have come to realize my love and respect for this rich country. Taiwan is where I was born, and mainland China is where my dreams came true. It is because of the favor-granting policies issued by the country this year that I’ve been given more room for development and learning opportunities. I still have a lot to learn, and I am open-minded in doing so. I feel proud as a Chinese in receiving your criticism and guidance. I love my native place, I love my motherland – the Cross-Straits will be one family forever.”

Sung’s post, which was shared nearly 14,000 times in the hours following its publication, also became a topic of debate.

“I just hope you’re not saying this to earn [more] money,” a typical comment said.

“She’s always been taught about Taiwanese independence, so it’s not a problem when she says she loves Taiwan,” one popular comment said: “We’ve always been taught that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China, so it’s also okay [for us] to resist.”

Sung is not the first celebrity causing a social media storm over Cross-Straits relations. In 2016, popular Taiwanese model ‘Stella’ (史黛拉) stirred controversy for calling mainlanders ‘426’, a Taiwanese term for scolding people from the PRC. (The pronunciation of ‘426’ [死阿陆] sounds similar to ‘damned mainlanders‘ [死大陆人] in Taiwan’s Hokkien dialect.)

In that same year, two other celebrities from Taiwan also became the victim of ongoing political tensions between mainland China and Taiwan.

Pop star Chou Tzuyu (周子瑜) angered netizens from mainland China by waving a Taiwanese national flag on a Korean reality show, and actor Show Luo (罗志祥) angered netizens from Taiwan by saying that Taiwanese and mainland actors “are all Chinese.”

In this latest controversy, there are also many people who refuse to take a side.

“Just be yourself, then you’ll always be better,” one popular comment said. Other comment sections had been closed for viewing by Thursday night.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

China Celebs

Chinese Actor Zhao Lixin Banned from Weibo over Comments on Second Sino-Japanese War

The actor was banned for “downplaying” the Japanese aggression in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

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Sina Weibo issued a statement on April 16 that the Weibo account of the Chinese-Swedish actor Zhao Lixin has been terminated following remarks he made about Japan’s invasion of China and the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The Weibo account of Zhao Lixin (赵立新, 1968) has been closed after the Chinese-Swedish actor made controversial comments on the Second Sino-Japanese War.

On April 2nd, Zhao Lixin, who had more than 7 million followers, posted a message on Weibo that questioned why the Japanese military did not pillage and destroy the Beijing Palace Museum during the Second Sino-Japanese War:

The Japanese occupied Beijing for eight years. Why didn’t they steal relics from the Palace Museum and burn it down [during that time]? Is this in line with the nature of an invader?

The actor also commented on the Nanjing Massacre of 1937, suggesting that it was a consequence of Chinese resistance to the Japanese invasion.

Zhao’s post led to much controversy in early April, followed by a lengthy apology statement from the actor on April 3rd, in which he said he did not phrase his comments carefully enough and that he was remorseful over the storm of criticism he had ignited. His controversial Weibo post was soon taken offline.

Many people were mostly angered because they felt Zhao’s comments “defended” the Japanese invaders. “Zhao’s permit to work in China should be terminated forever!”, some commenters posted on Weibo.

The Second Sino-Japanese War is still a highly sensitive topic in China today, with anti-Japanese sentiments often flaring up when Japan-related topics go trending on Chinese social media.

The ‘Nanjing massacre’ or ‘Rape of Nanjing’ is an especially sensitive topic within the history of the Second Sino-Japanese War, also because some Japanese politicians and scholars consistently deny it even happened, heightening the tension between the two countries. For a Chinese celebrity to seemingly ‘downplay’ the aggression and atrocities committed by Japanese invaders in the 1937-1945 period is therefore highly controversial.

Despite Zhao’s apologies, Sina Weibo issued a notice on April 16 “Relating to Harmful Political Information” (关于时政有害信息的处理公告), stating that the account of Zhao Lixin, along with some others, had been closed for spreading this kind of information.

The hashtag relating to Zhao’s social media suspension received more than 57 million views on Weibo today.

“It’s good that his account was taken down,” a popular comment said: “It’s insulting our country.” Others said that Zhao should not have posted something that is “out of line” “considering his position as an actor.”

Zhao Lixin is mainly known for his roles in TV dramas such as The Legend of Mi Yue, Memoirs In China, and In the Silence.

Zhao is not the first KOL (Key Opinion Leader) to have been banned from Weibo after making controversial remarks relating to China’s history. In 2016 the famous entrepreneur Ren Zhiqiang disappeared from Weibo after publishing various posts on his experience with communism in the past, and the status quo of media in China.

By Manya Koetse , with contributions from Miranda Barnes

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Chinese TV Dramas

Catharsis on Taobao? Chinese ‘All is Well’ TV Drama Fans Are Paying Up to Scold the ‘Su Family Villains’

Some netizens are getting too worked up over this hit TV drama.

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Chinese TV drama ‘All is Well’ is such an online hit, that the collective despise for the fictional villains in the story is getting all too real. The show itself, along with an online service to scold its characters, has become a trending topic on Chinese social media this week.

The Chinese TV series All is Well (都挺好) is such a success that some people would even pay to scold the drama’s main ‘villains.’ One Taobao seller had nearly one thousand customers paying a fee this week for a special service to curse the characters they despise so much.

All is Well is a 46-episode urban TV drama that premiered on March 1st of this year on Zhejiang and Jiangsu Television. The series is based on the novel by A’nai (阿耐), who is also known for writing the super popular Ode to Joy TV drama.

All is Well tells the story of white-collar worker Su Mingyu and the conflicts within her family. The role of this daughter is played by Chinese actress Yao Chen (姚晨), one of the most popular celebrities on Weibo.

Yao Chen in All is Well.

As the only daughter, Su Mingyu is the black sheep of the family and grows up feeling lonely and unloved. When her mother suddenly passes away, the Su family falls apart. The father becomes selfish and overbearing, while her brothers are also unsuccessful in keeping the family together.

The three men within the Su family have become much-hated characters on Chinese social media for their selfishness and manipulative traits. Su Mingcheng (Li Junting) is Mingyu’s older brother, Su Mingzhe (Gao Xin) is her younger brother, and Su Daqiang (Ni Dahong) is her father.

While the TV drama is a major hit, many fans seem to take pleasure in scolding the main characters. On Weibo, some netizens are changing their names into some of the Su villains, allowing others to scold them.

But there are also people who have turned the collective contempt for the Su men into a small business. On e-commerce site Taobao, one seller set up a service to “curse the Su family father and sons” (怒骂苏家三父子), charging a 0.5 yuan fee, Caijing reports.

Various Chinese media report that the seller has had at least 300 customers over the past week who could “vent their anger” about the drama’s characters. The seller would open a chat window, displaying the photo and name of one of the three despised characters, and pretending to be them. He also displays a counter that shows how many times the characters have been scolded by customers.

Other news sites report that there are at least 40 online shops selling this ‘scolding service’ to customers, with one seller allegedly serving nearly 1000 customers in one day.

The topic, under the hashtag “Online Shop Sells Service to Scold the Su Father and Sons” (#网店出售怒骂苏家三父子服务#), received nearly 100 million views on Weibo this week.

Many netizens are surprised and amused that their favorite TV drama has turned into a business opportunity for Taobao sellers. “I’m a shop seller,” one commenter says: “I give all the money to charity. I work during the day, but in the evenings I’m here for all of you!”

“Is this the rival of the Kua Kua group?”, one commenter wonders. Kua Kua groups, as we recently explained in this article, are online chat groups where people can be complimented or praised, sometimes for money. The current scolding groups, in a way, serve a similar purpose: offering netizens a way to vent their feelings and feel a bit better.

Although the cursing may provide emotional catharsis for some, others just find it really funny. “How about you give me one yuan, and I scold you?”, one commenter suggests: “It’s crazy that these type of services exist.”

All is Well can be viewed through iQiyi (without English subtitles, regional restrictions apply – VPN).

Also see:

By Manya Koetse 

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2018

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