In what was seen as an implicit endorsement of mainlanders' calls for a boycott of Hong Kong comedian Chapman To for sympathising with Taiwanese protesters, the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office yesterday said public figures should be responsible for their comments.
"It's only natural that what public figures say will come under public scrutiny," said Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang. The statement came as an anti-To online campaign drew more than 11 million supporters within a week.
But Ma was quick to add: "We hope compatriots on both sides of the strait … can have more contact to enhance mutual understanding."
To had earlier backed Taiwanese celebrities who had voiced support for the students protesting against the island's trade pact with the mainland. He also described mainland internet users as "barbarous".
The actor has since been hit by waves of abuse from mainland internet users, with some even threatening to kill him.
A weibo forum page, "Block Chapman To from entering the mainland", attracted over 11 million supporters. And Chen Lizhi, head of Beijing Maite Media Company, has vowed not to use To in the firm's productions.
But Hong Kong cultural commentator Leung Man-to said: "The implicit support was only to show the people that the government's listening to public views."