Taiwan president defends pro-independence film award winner

Eye of the storm: Fu (left) delivering her speech after winning best documentary at the 55th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei. — AP

BEIJING: Taiwan’s president has expressed her support for the prestigious Golden Horse film awards after a pro-Taiwan independence director’s speech ignited controversy in mainland China.

“We have never accepted the term ‘Chinese Taiwan’,” Tsai Ing-wen said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “Taiwan is just Taiwan.”

Director Fu Yue said during her acceptance speech on Saturday in Taipei that her biggest hope was for “our country” to be regarded as an “independent entity”.

Her film Our Youth in Taiwan won best documentary at the awards, which are akin to a Chinese-language Oscars.

Taiwan split from mainland China amid civil war in 1949, but Beijing considers the self-ruled island part of its territory.

In recent years, the ruling Com­munist Party has ratcheted up pressure on other countries to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan – a prerequisite for establishing formal relations with China.

Only 17 mainly small, developing countries still recognise Taiwan as a sovereign nation.

Chinese netizens lambasted Fu on Weibo following her win, sharing posts with the #“Not one speck of China can go missing” and a map of China that includes Taiwan and the territories claimed in the South China Sea.

Outraged commenters also took to Fu’s personal Facebook page, which they littered with dero­gatory posts.

Tsai said in her post that the Golden Horse Awards, held annually in Taipei, highlight the freedoms that set Taiwan apart from China.

“Here (in Taiwan) there aren’t people who will disappear or be silenced for expressing differing viewpoints,” she wrote, “and we also don’t have sensitive terms that are censored on the Internet.”

China’s government cut ties with Tsai’s administration after her 2016 inauguration and has repeatedly denounced her for refusing its demand that Taiwan is a part of China.

Our Youth in Taiwan follows a young Taiwanese man and a young mainland Chinese woman who are at the centre of student movements in Taiwan. — AP

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