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China’s Communist Youth League joins witch-hunt of film director Zhao Wei for using ‘pro-Taiwan-independence’ actor

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 July, 2016, 2:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 July, 2016, 11:28pm

China’s Communist Youth League, once the cradle of senior party officials, has joined the continuing witch-hunt against Chinese director and actress Zhao Wei for employing a Taiwanese actor allegedly involved in the pro-Taiwan-independence campaign in her forthcoming film.

Zhao’s new film, Mei You Bie de Ai, or “No Other Love”, has been under fire ever since April’s announcement of the cast, which revealed that Taiwan’s Leon Dai was to play the leading role.

The league took the online criticism of the film to a new level on Wednesday by publishing a lengthy article on the official Weibo page of the league’s Central Committee, which featured a compilation of online pictures and screen shots that it said proved how offensive Dai’s political stance was.

Entitled “Zhao Wei’s new film met with universal boycott by internet users”, the article included pictures of media reports, mostly from Taiwan, about Dai’s support for the “sunflower” student movement, universal suffrage and Occupy Central in Hong Kong.

Dai’s interview with Falungong sponsored television was also presented by the website as being anti-Beijing.

The article – initially censored and blocked on Weibo after it was published – was later able to be viewed normally.

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It also listed the names of three forthcoming films in which Dai has a role, hinting that people could boycott these films.

Internet users have used social media and online chatrooms to question the choice of cast members of Zhao’s new film saying that Dai was pro-Taiwan-independence and had been supporting Taiwan’s independence and the “sunflower” student movement, and protests against the passing of the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement by the ruling Kuomingtang party at the legislature without a clause-by-clause review.

Nationalist internet users were further agitated when Zhao published pictures showing her with Dai last month on her Weibo page after filming had been completed.

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One comment on Zhao’s Weibo page said: “I hope this film will be banned.” Another comment said:

“The state interests come before idol worship. I have liked you for many years, but you should have known better.”

Both Dai and staff working on the film have published statements denying that he has any political agenda or support for pro-Taiwan-independence, but these have failed to halt the criticism.

The online comments also referred to a 2001 incident when Zhao, then a budding actress, issued a public apology for appearing on the cover of a magazine in a dress with a pattern resembling the Japanese military flag.