Golden Horse blow after China blocks its films and stars

Top News | Reuters and Charlotte Luo 8 Aug 2019

China's film regulator has banned mainland movies and stars from participating in Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards without giving a reason - the latest sign of rising tension between Beijing and Taipei.

China Film New, a magazine published by the China Film Administration, made the announcement on its WeChat account.

The move comes after the awards, the Chinese version of the Oscars, became a lightning rod for questions about Taiwanese independence last year and sparked a debate between Taiwanese and mainland stars as well as web users.

In response to the boycott, at least three Hong Kong movies have pulled out.

The White Storm 2 - Drug Lords, Line Walker 2: Invisible Spy and No 7 Cherry Lane have canceled their registrations with the awards, a source said.

The source added that the National Radio and Television Administration had met with bosses of several Hong Kong film production companies earlier this year seeking their cooperation.

Radio Taiwan International quoted a Chinese film professional as saying the main reason for the ban is that artists from both China and Taiwan made political statements at last year's awards.

Taiwan film director Yue Fu called for the island to be treated as an independent body and said this is her biggest wish as a Taiwanese.

Mainland actor Tu Men noted that the awards will be held less than two months before Taiwan's presidential election and China may be concerned that the island has arranged for actors to make speeches, especially in light of Hong Kong's anti-extradition bill saga.

Relations between Beijing and Taiwan have become more strained. China announced last week that it would stop issuing individual travel permits for Taiwan to Chinese travelers.

"From an industry point of view, the Golden Horse was a good platform for exchanges on films among the mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong," Dong Shu, a Shanghai-based film critic, said.

"But some people in Taiwan had to get politically sensitive content on it, things that crossed red lines for [Beijing, so] the nature of this award has been changed."

The mainland's content regulator has also been more cautious in the run-up to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, pulling a few blockbuster movies and banning "entertainment-driven" historical and idol dramas.

Reports of the suspension soon became a trending topic on Weibo, with one related hashtag receiving more than 68 million views yesterday.

"Taiwan made this award political first, don't we have a right to punch back?" the Weibo commentator wrote.

Mainland entrants have been big winners at the awards since they were first invited to attend in 1996, with Xu Zheng winning best actor last year for his work in Dying to Survive. Other winners include popular actresses Ma Sichun and Zhou Dongyu for 2016's Soul Mate.


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