Taiwan's military threatens legal action against film director Niu Chen-zer

Award-winning filmmaker is accused of national security breach for secretly bringing mainlander onto naval base for location scout

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 July, 2013, 4:14am

Taiwan's military may take legal action against a celebrated Taiwanese film director who illegally took an award-winning mainland cinematographer to a major naval base to scout sites for a new movie he is shooting, defence ministry officials on the island said.

The navy has also decided to stop providing assistance to the director, Niu Chen-zer - who also goes by Doze Niu and is best known for his 2010 award-winning feature Monga, about Taiwanese gangsters in the 1960s - in filming his new feature, Military Paradise, the officials said.

Niu, who is on holiday in Greece, apologised yesterday on Facebook and his Sina microblog for his actions and said he should engage in self-reflection. But many online users were quick to condemn him, saying he broke laws and risked exposing sensitive military intelligence for his own interests.

There were also calls for Niu to be harshly punished under laws concerning treason and national security.

Niu took Cao Yu, who twice won cinematography awards at Taiwan's Golden Horse Film Festival, to the Tsoying Naval Base in southern Taiwan on June 1, for scouting locations, the officials said, adding that Cao used the ID of a Taiwanese man to gain entrance. The two boarded a landing ship tank, and a picture of them aboard it was published yesterday in Taiwan's Apple Daily newspaper, prompting the navy to cut aid to Niu's production company, Atom Cinema.

"[Niu] had breached the agreement, and we reserve the right to take legal action against both him and the company," Taiwan naval spokesman Wen Chen-kuo said.

Defence ministry spokesman Luo Shou-he said that, under the island's laws, no mainlanders may gain access to its military facilities, given that Beijing had yet to renounce the use of force against Taiwan. Luo also said that Niu had been informed of the ban in advance.

Military officials said Atom Cinema applied late last year for aid from the navy to film the movie. In February, the navy specifically told the company that no mainlanders were allowed access to the naval base.

In May, Niu went to the defence ministry seeking approval for Cao to be included in the crew, but was rejected.

Separately, Luo said the military will hold a five-day computer-simulated war game starting on July 15 as part of the island's annual Han Kuang exercises to test the military's combat readiness in the event of an attack.

However, he declined to confirm a report by the Taipei-based Liberty Times that the drills would simulate an attack on Taiwan by the mainland's Liaoning aircraft carrier. The report also said the US would send an observation team to watch the drills.