Singing the National Anthem 

The strongest argument against Taiwan independence is the potential economic fallout if relationships between China and Taiwan should deteriorate.  This is usually presented in abstract terms, such as the 1,000,000+ Taiwan residents working on the mainland, or the US$100+ billion investment on the mainland, or the US$10+ billion annual trade surplus.  Here is a simpler story that shows just where the economic future of Taiwan lies and how people are voting by their actions.

(SCMP, no link)

Taiwan's authorities have had a hard time finding someone to sing the national anthem during President Chen Shui-bian's inauguration for a second term on Thursday, as most artists fear a backlash from the mainland.

This follows the experience of Chang Hui-mei, or A-mei, who was frozen out of the huge mainland market for a year after she sang the national anthem at President Chen's inauguration four years ago.

After repeated knock-backs from popular local stars, organisers finally settled on blind singer Hsiao Huang-chi, who was nominated as best singer and best composer in the 2003 Golden Melody Awards ceremony, Taiwan's equivalent of the Grammy's.

Hsiao, who visited the mainland in January, has won recognition from Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, who was moved by his songs after learning he was blind.  Asked if he would worry about the mainland's reaction, Hsiao told Taiwanese media: "I am not as popular as A-mei.  I don't know what would happen."

During A-mei's absence from the hugely profitable mainland show business market she was quickly replaced as the most popular star there by others such as Coco Lee and Wang Lihom.  The damaging imapct of A-mei's absence on the mainland market on her career was not lost on others of her ilk in the music industry.

Mindful of her lesson, local stars such as Jay Chou and David Tao have avoided the inauguration, saying they would not be in Taiwan at the time.  Richie Jen, a Taiwanese singer who became popular in Hong Kong and the mainland, said he was holding a solo concert on the mainland around the time of the president's inauguration.

Even the five-member pop band May Day, which recently snatched a Golden Melody Award for best musical group, simply left Taiwan so its members could avoid the inauguration.  "We happen to be in Shanghai on that day," one of the band members said before leaving the island.  The pop group had been labelled a pro-Chen band before it rose to fame more than five years ago.  The group had invited President Chen and Taipei County Magistrate Su Chen-Chang, who will become Mr Chen's chief of staff after May 20, to their shows.

"The mainland market is too large to lose," a show business agent in Taipei said.  "This explains why so many popular stars in Taiwan do not want to get invited to sing even though it is considered an honour to make the performance."