Taiwan politics
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Tsai Ing-wen

Who is 16-year-old girl Chou Tzu-Yu at the centre of a political storm ahead of Taiwan’s presidential poll?

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 January, 2016, 5:39pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 January, 2016, 2:22pm

Many people in Taiwan were angered in the run-up to the presidential elections when singer Chou Tzu-Yu was forced to apologise for waving a Taiwanese national flag on a TV programme in South Korea.

The incident has raised sensitive issues about Taiwan’s identity and its relationship with mainland China, which considers the island a breakaway Chinese province.

Who is Chou Tzu-Yu?

She is 16 and was born in Tainan in Taiwan in 1999.

She is a singer working for the South Korean agency JYP Entertainment and performs as part of the K-pop girl group Twice.

Rise to fame

Chou was spotted by entertainment scouts in 2012 at Tainan’s MUSE Performing Arts Workshop. She then went to South Korea to be groomed to become a popstar in November the same year.

After almost three years of training, Chou became famous in 2015 through the South Korean reality TV show Sixteen, which recruited the members of a new multinational girl band Twice.

The nine-member group made its debut in late October last year and their first song Like OOH-AHH has attracted more than 26 million views on YouTube.

Before joining the band, Chou was in music videos of the Korean bands GOT7 and miss A in 2014.

Social media hit

Twice has 474,000 followers on its official Instagram account, 356,000 likes on Facebook and 175,000 followers on Twitter.

Political row

Chou has introduced herself as Taiwanese on various South Korean entertainment shows after Twice was launched last year.

She appeared on TV in November holding the South Korean and Taiwanese flags.

READ MORE: Row over Taiwan’s national flag causes furore as millions vote for island’s new president

She is not known to have been involved in any pro-independence political acts.

The mainland-based, Taiwan-born singer Huang An blasted Chou for being a supporter of Taiwanese independence on his social media page in late November.