What’s hilarious is that Tzuyu was holding the ROC flag, which is strongly tied to the KMT party — and if there’s a party in Taiwan that actually supports unification with Mainland China, it’s the KMT. Actual Taiwan independence supporters wouldn’t be caught dead holding that flag.
This issue really isn’t that complicated. Tzuyu didn’t say or do anything remotely controversial apart from holding the ROC flag and saying “I am Taiwanese,” which no one outside of China would blink at. Virtually every other Taiwanese person — independence supporter or not — has done this before, because that’s what you do when someone asks you “Where are you from?” Huang An started this whole mess by singling out one person doing what any other Taiwanese person would have done, putting her on blast, and siccing his followers on her. He’s a shameless traitor who’s trying to earn China’s good graces and make an extra buck by selling out his home country. Hope you enjoy whatever crumbs the CCP throws at you from the table whenever the unification happens, man.
But don’t think that Taiwanese independence supporters don’t have a political stake in this either. The presidential election is happening today, and while the DPP (independence supporting) candidate is slated to win a landslide victory, they’re still taking every opportunity to gather supporters for their cause. It was DPP-supporting media outlets who said that Tzuyu supported of Taiwanese sovereignty, calling her “The Pride of Taiwan,” and attaching other nationalistic slogans to her name. They used her as a symbol to support their political cause, which the DPP does all the time. And now you’ve got a surge of Taiwanese voters out to the polls this weekend to ensure that the DPP victory is written in stone.
This whole situation is just gross. As a person of Taiwanese descent, it makes me sad and afraid of the possible consequences if I, like Tzuyu, were to say that I was Taiwanese. I teach Mandarin for a living; will writing a comment on the internet like this one day put my job in jeopardy? If so, this proves that Taiwanese people no longer have the right to call themselves Taiwanese anymore. It denies us the right to our history and identity. Likewise, might my comment be quoted by a DPP-leaning media outlet as evidence that “even overseas Taiwanese” support Taiwanese independence? If so, this proves that the voice of any ordinary Taiwanese person can be easily co-opted by a political force without their consent. The mere act of being Taiwanese has become intensely political, and the political interests on both sides of the Taiwan strait are taking it as an opportunity to expand their power. Ordinary, innocent, otherwise clueless people can easily be used as pawns and symbols for political interests far bigger than themselves. Tzuyu is just the latest example of this.
If you think a Korean company like JYP is in a tough spot losing the lucrative Chinese market over this, think about how impossible it is for Taiwan to have trade relations with China while also maintaining their integrity as a people. Imagine that your one economic lifeline is a country that is politically, fiscally, and physically several hundred times bigger than you, and not only do they have the power to pull the plug at any time, they can make the entire world shun you if they feel like it. (Only 22 countries on this planet officially recognize Taiwan as a legitimate state. Everyone else’s loyalty lies with the PRC.) Oh, and don’t forget the 1,600 missiles aimed at Taiwan, ready to fire at the slightest real possibility of Taiwanese independence. Tzuyu talking about “One China” in her video apology was a complete nonsurprise. It’s what every Taiwanese company hoping to stay afloat by doing business with China these days has to say, too.
It’s a harrowing time to be Taiwanese, and Tzuyu’s just the latest victim. Sad that it had to happen to an innocent 16 year old kid. Sadder that the people ruining her life are fully grown adults only interested in feeding their own political interests.
(crossposted this from a comment on my old stomping grounds at Seoulbeats, because apparently internet comments are the best I’ve got these days)