Cultural Wars

The China Daily article below covers the troubles of Taiwan singer Zhang A-Mei.  The problems exist at two levels.

At the government level, the Chinese government objects to her pro-Taiwan stance, as in singing the "Taiwan anthem" at the 2000 inauguration of president Chen Sui-bian (see previous post for the 2004 edition).  From the other side, the article says that the Taiwan government has threatened to bar Chinese singers such as Zhao Wei, Wang Fei, and Na Ying from appearing in Taiwan.

This may lead to an escalation of insane proportions.  In the worst case, this leads to a total ban of entertainers from the other side of the strait, including appearances, radio play, record sales and sponsorship.  This is not in the interest of either government.

On the Chinese side, the cultural industry is a relatively small sector, but it is highly visible.  Any all-out cultural war is detrimental to the attempt to move ahead in political negotiations and economic development.  The same thing can be said for the Taiwan side.

For the entertainers, this cultural war is asymmetrical due to the disparate sizes of the markets (1.2 billion people in China versus 20 million in Taiwan).  The mainland Chinese entertainers draw relatively small proportions of their revenues from Taiwan and they would probably just shrug it off.  As the sudden mass absence of Taiwan singers at the 2004 presidential inauguration shows, the Taiwan entertainers obviously value the vast Chinese market, whose loss would be devastating.

At the government level, if these two governments act rationally, this issue will most likely be tempered down.  However, there is another level which is less predictable.

On June 12, 2004, Zhang A-Mei was booked for a concert in Hangzhou.  Since the concert received a permit, it is presumed the government approved.  But Chinese students used their BBS to spontaneously start a protest at the site, which caused the concert to be cancelled.  Zhang A-Mei has more concerts scheduled later this year.  Will there be mass protests again?  If such mass protests seem to be in the works, will the mainland Chinese government have to step in to clamp down, including dispersing the crowds with riot police?  This is going to be a tough call for China watchers.  On one hand, it would clearly be an infringement of freedom of assembly and speech.  On the other hand, it is arguably in the national interest to de-escalate tensions.

If Zhang A-Mei is forced to cancel again by mass protests, then the next mainland Chinese entertainer to visit Taiwan can expect to face the same treatment.  There are enough people who want to see this happen (see, for example, the matter of Jackie Chan).  The Taiwan government has an even tougher problem, because they cannot clamp down on such protests since freedom of speech and assembly is constitutionally guaranteed.  If so, then this may really escalate to places where no one really want to go.

Fortunately, a full-scale cultural war intiated by the people will not extend to the economic realm.  Here, the governments control the economic policies, and the people cannot effectively boycott or protest everything by themselves.  Neither government would want to get into economic warfare because the stakes are too high.  

P.S.  Unfortunately, there are enough individuals who want to see bad things happen.  I'll give you an example from this Taipei Times article by Cao Chang-qing 曹長青.  The author reviewed the 7/1 march in Hong Kong, and praised the Hong Kong people: 

Having known the taste of freedom in the past, people in Hong Kong understand that only by fighting Beijing can they truly protect themselves.

Therefore, the lesson for the people of Taiwan is: 

The Hong Kong example serves as an inspiration to the oppressed Taiwan: we can only protect our own businesspeople, entertainers, and this democratic and free country, if we unite together against Beijing.

Well, it would seem obvious that this oppressed Taiwan can withdraw all their business people and entertainers from mainland China back to their homeland of Taiwan, where they will be safely under the protection of the Taiwan military forces and the US Seventh Fleet.  How about that?

(China DailyA-Mei's stance leads to a bumpy road.  July 9, 2004.

Taiwan singer A-Mei's in trouble again - and whether her proposed summer concert dates will go ahead remains to be seen.  She may be popular with fans of Chinese pop music, but singer A-Mei just seems to be constantly in trouble over her views on Taiwan - and once more, she's facing a veto on performing on the Chinese mainland.

A-Mei originally fell from grace on the Chinese mainland in May 2000, when she sang "Taiwan's anthem" at a public performance. After a two-year spell out of the Chinese headlines, she returned to favor - but has found herself on the wrong side of entertainment regulators once more.

The singer was originally booked for a small concert in Hangzhou on June 12, sponsored by an ice tea company. Ahead of the event, however, a group of university students began to post messages and comments made by A-Mei in recent months on a local BBS. The singer reportedly told fans, "You are Chinese - I'm Taiwanese." She went on to add, "It doesn't matter whether I'm green or not, that doesn't affect my singing career," referring to her political affiliation with Taiwan independence.

Fighting back, the students posted messages on their BBS stating: "We'll make the green singers pay for what they say and so," and "Don't pay money to support green singers in China."

When the day of the concert arrived, A-Mei was stopped from going on to the stage by an impromptu gathering of students who had read the BBS and who intended to protest her comments. Although a message was also posted on the site warning students that they should not attempt to harm the singer in any way, or interfere with fans at the event, the end result was that the show was stopped and the star headed off home without having sung a note.

A-Mei returned to Taiwan the next day, hiding at home for two days. When she finally emerged, she told journalists that she understood the students' anger, but that she didn't want the affair blown out of proportion.

Internet chatrooms and BBS were filled with stories of a "Green List" naming Taiwan singers considered to be in favor of Taiwan independence. According to an announcement by the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, such a list of banned singers does not exist, and the situation was dismissed as rumormongering. "All singers from Taiwan are welcome on the Chinese mainland," read the announcement. "There is no so-called 'Green List' of forbidden singers."

By June 17, organizers of A-Mei's scheduled Beijing concert, set for July 31, were maintaining there was no change in plans to hold the concert, and ticket sales were going ahead. The China Performing Arts Association (CPAA), charged with selling the tickets, however, said they had decided to suspend ticket sales. A spokesman for the CPAA told reporter they were still waiting a final decision on the concert from the government, meaning all further media promotions for the event had stopped.

A representative of the event promoters Great Dragon Culture Co., surnamed Liu, said that media coverage had been postponed, but that the event itself was still going ahead as planned.  A spot as warm-up guest for fellow pop star Wang Lee-Hom in Shanghai was cancelled, although organizers maintained events in Hangzhou had nothing to do with the decision, blaming the switch on conflicting brand promotion deals (Lee-Hom is the poster boy for Wahaha water, while A-Mei is the face of Kang Shifu ice tea).

Whether or not A-Mei is once more persona non grata on the Chinese mainland remains to be seen. Taiwan responded to the issue, however, by threatening to bar mainland stars in retaliation, naming Zhao Wei, Wang Fei, and Na Ying.  So it seems, whether or not A-Mei is green or not is of the utmost importance.

(TakungPao)  On July 31, 2004, Chang A-Mei held her solo concert in the Beijing Sports Stadium.  Prior to the concert, between 10 to 20 citizens demonstrated outside against Taiwanese independence and "green" artists.  There were some arguments with A-Mei fans, but the police had the situation under control.  The police turned out in force with more than 500 personnel.

It is sometimes confusing to distinguish between politicians and entertainers ... 

Did she? Or didn't she?
HK Entertainment News In Review (May 27, 2000)


On a stopover in Hong Kong, A-Mei Chang did not want to talk about being banned in Mainland China for singing the Taiwanese national anthem at the inauguration of President Chen Shui-Bien. "It's too political for a singer to comment on," answered Chang.

However, Chang did not have any regrets. Chang: "I've been singing the national anthem since I was a kid so it came naturally to me. I think that a singer being asked to sing the national anthem is a great honour! Basically, singing the national anthem is a harmless, simple matter. I don't know how it became such a big political matter. I didn't expect it to become a problem between the two shores (Taiwan and Mainland China). But I hope that the two shores can settle the problem soon!"

Apple Daily (August 3, 2004)

Recently, Chang A-Mei was interviewed on CCTV's News Living Room program and she disclosed that her national anthem performance at the presidential inauguration was not voluntary.  A-Mei said: "At the time, I felt that these things had taken place already.  Even though it was not my decision, I must accept the burden because I am Chang A-Mei."

The news said that the president's office invited A-Mei to sing through Hua-Feng Record Company to sing the national anthem.  A-Mei did not promise.  But nobody at the record company dared to say no to the president's office, and so they told A-Mei to give the refusal herself if that was her decision.  She cried all night and showed up the next day with swollen red eyes to sing.

But after the interview, other people thought that A-Mei admitted that it was a mistake to have performed.  When A-Mei got back to Taiwan last night, she was upset: "Mistake?  I don't think that I said I made a mistake!  Where did you hear that?"  Her manager said, "As long as it does not affect A-Mei's making money, as long as it is good for me, we'll go with whatever she says." 

The following are a series of reports and editorials taken from English-language media in Taiwan.  Some of these are quite bizarre.  

For example, why is there any speculation about whether the Chinese government is behind the protests?  The answer is that there is no systematic attempt because you would have seen hundreds of thousands of people surrounding the concert hall instead of the 10 to 20 ragtag citizens shouting slogans outside.

And then there is the empirical proof that says the only proven formula success for entertainers is this mechanical equation ("green" -> popular in Taiwan -> popular in China); all other deviations from this formula are flops.  Say what ... ?  This insults everybody.

(Taipei Times)  A-mei just can't please anybody.  By Mac William Bishop.  August 3, 2004.

Pop music diva Chang Hui-mei (張惠妹), also known as A-mei, returned home early yesterday after performing in a controversial concert in Beijing on Saturday night. The singer was following through on her earlier vow to hold the Beijing concert despite threats of disruption by Chinese ultra-nationalists.

Throngs of protesters heckled the Puyuma Aboriginal singer, holding red banners protesting "pro-independence Taiwanese businesspeople." Her Chinese fans rushed to her defense, however, leading to scuffles between the two groups, which were quickly broken up by Chinese police.

According to media reports, A-mei's fans begged her not to be disturbed by the raucous protesters, who were also demanding that A-mei sing March of the Volunteers, the Chinese national anthem.

The singer reportedly broke down and wept onstage, even as her Chinese supporters cheered her on and called out to her not to cry. A-mei told the estimated 10,000-strong audience that she had never felt such great pressure at a concert before.

Still, the 31-year-old singer from Taitung County carried on and finished her set.

A-mei became the focus of international controversy on June 12 when she was forced to cancel a concert in Hangzhou after students from Zhejiang University branded her a "supporter of Taiwanese independence." Several hundred students invaded a press conference at which the pop star had been scheduled to appear, chanting slogans and holding banners decrying the "green performer." Fearing for A-mei's safety, the organizers canceled her appearance.

However, the Mainland Affairs Council later described the students as "Beijing's dupes," who were probably acting with official encouragement.

The lambasting of Taiwanese performers for their supposed political preferences is a common occurrence in China. Internet discussion boards and forums often carry virulently aggressive messages attacking Taiwanese "splittists," China's propaganda term of choice for pro-independence or anti-unification figures.

After the re-election of President Chen Shui-bian ( 陳水扁 ) in March, several prominent supporters of the Democratic Progressive Party were singled out in editorials in state-run Chinese publications and online in Internet chatrooms.

A-mei initially gained the attention of Chinese authorities after singing the national anthem at Chen's inauguration in 2000.  At that time, the singer was blacklisted, lost a sponsorship deal with the Coca-Cola company and was subjected to a media blackout in China.

Yesterday, in a bizarre turn of events, some pro-independence groups called for a boycott of A-mei in response to comments she made upon her return, which were apparently meant to mollify her Chinese critics.  

"I'm a Chinese person, and I sing Chinese people's songs," the singer told reporters at CKS International Airport.

"Shame on you A-mei. You are an embarassment to Aborigines and all Taiwanese people," one contributor wrote on a forum discussing A-mei at

(Taipei Times)  Editorial: Profiting from cross-strait politics.  August 5, 2004.

This week, the popular singer Chang Hui-mei ( 張惠妹 ), also known as A-mei ( 阿妹 ), finally gave a concert in Beijing. This is both worrisome and joyful. Worrisome, because China continues to use A-mei's performance of Taiwan's national anthem at the 2000 presidential inauguration as a target for its inflated nationalist vitriol. Joyful, because despite this A-mei's fans embraced her. Once these fans met face-to-face with ultra-nationalists outside the venue, reports say that at least one nationalist was slapped in the face during the ensuing pushing and shoving.

It was expected that Chinese nationalists would continue to make a big deal of A-mei's "green credentials." With Chinese authorities continuing to encourage or tacitly allow extreme nationalism, these people will continue to find scapegoats against whom to vent their nationalist sentiment. A-mei is just one of their targets. So long as the Chinese government continues to foster nationalism, similar incidents will continue to occur -- and these future incidents may be even bigger and more violent.

Other groups in China also dare to make themselves heard, and clashes occur between these groups and nationalists. That this occurs in China, a highly oppressive authoritarian country, is something that inspires further thought. Does it mean that Chinese officials, following market reforms, are beginning to tolerate dissent? Or was the recent clash the result of official support for nationalists?

Then there is A-Mei herself. Because of the huge profits and market possibilities of performing in China, since the national anthem incident she has frantically sought to disassociate herself from Taiwan's pan-green camp. She has kept her distance from politics, and when interviewed in China went so far as to suggest that singing the national anthem at President Chen Shui-bian's ( 陳水扁 ) inauguration wasn't even her decision.

The statements she has made in order to be able to perform in China again may disappoint the Taiwanese public. But to resist the temptation of money and her fans in China could only be expected of a saint. There is no reason to make such demands on A-Mei, who is only an entertainer and not some model of civic virtue. In order to develop her career, she has indeed compromised her principles and attitudes. But as long as this doesn't hurt the national interest, she is free to do as she pleases.

The irony of the national anthem incident is that if China hadn't boycotted her performances, she would never have drawn the attention of the international news media, or made it onto the cover of Time. A-Mei wouldn't be such an influential figure or be used as an index of cross-strait relations. So although A-Mei may have lost some business because of the boycott, this "disaster" has actually brought her considerable good fortune. It's made her one of the Chinese-speaking world's foremost entertainers.

To be more specific, it is her "green credentials" that have made A-mei famous. Without these credentials, she would probably be just another singer who, seeing the end of her career in Taiwan, has no choice but to try to develop in China.

In recent years, Taiwan has been the index of a performer's popularity in the greater Chinese-speaking region. If the singer is well-received in Taiwan, he or she is very likely to be popular in China. Failure in Taiwan's market predicts the same result elsewhere.

However, no Taiwanese performer has ever attained fame in China because of being labeled "pro-blue." This reminds us of Taiwan's own supermodel Lin Chi-ling ( 林志玲 ). Her parents have been ardent supporters of Chen for a long time. And the more the media talk about her "green" background, the more popular she becomes. Obviously politics cannot stifle the survival and growth of a performer. His or her own talent and fortune determine success after all.

(Taipei Times)  Pop Stop.  By Max Woodworth.  August 6, 2004.

Taiwan's veteran Mando-pop diva Chang Hui-mei ( 張惠妹 ), better known as A-mei ( 阿妹 ), marked a grandiose return to China with a mega stadium concert last weekend in Beijing that brought out tens of thousands of fans, about 2,000 cops and a gaggle of ultra-nationalist protesters, who now seem to be the singer's shadow whenever she sets foot in China. She probably won't be able to live down her singing the ROC national anthem at Chen Shui-bian's ( 陳水扁 ) inauguration in 2000 in the minds of some, but the heated confrontations between fans and protesters outside the venue proved that A-mei's got back even in China. 

Too bad she has no spine, though. In an interview with China's propaganda-filled CCTV she was asked how she felt when Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympics.

"I was performing a concert in Chongqing at the time of the announcement and everyone, whether they knew each other or not, was hugging each other. I was truly honored to be there on stage with everyone shouting, `We got the Olympics!'"

When the topic of her latest encounter with Chinese nationalist protesters in Hangzhou was raised, the interviewer asked whether the event had left her with any lasting impressions and whether she had learned that "there are things you can do and things you can't do?"

She replied: "Of course. ? I know that my influence goes beyond those around me to many more people, so I need to be more cautious. I know what I should do." Indeed, if her albums don't sell any more in Taiwan, better to pave the way for a smooth future in China.

(  Editorial: Dignity has no price.  August 6, 2004.

Chang Hui-mei or "A-mei" is an internationally famous Taiwanese aborigine singer - of the Puyuma people - with devoted fans on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and other countries in Asia.

She is also one of the most prominent victims of intimidation by hardline opponents of so-called "Taiwan independence" in the Chinese Communist Party-ruled People's Republic of China after singing the national anthem of the Republic of China in front of the Office of the President during President Chen's first inauguration ceremony on May 20, 2000.

As a result, A-mei was blacklisted by the PRC for four years and thus lost numerous performing and advertising opportunities.

Even after the tacit ban was lifted in the past few months, A-mei was forced to cancel a planned performance in Hangzhou in mid-June when a group of extremist "anti-Taiwan independence" students launched a vociferous protest.

After this incident, A-mei began to show signs of accommodating to Beijing's demands after which she received a chance to perform in Beijing again, which she did last weekend.

After her performance, A-mei stressed to the media that she had no interest in anything political, had no political stance and begged reporters not to mention the national anthem incident any more and to "put politics aside."

As a Taiwanese citizen, A-mei had a perfect right to sing the national anthem of her own country during the inaugural of the president of her own country.

While an invitation to perform at an inaugural ceremony would be seen as a natural act and a high honor for a citizen of virtually any other country in the world, A-mei's brief and stirring performance turned into a four-year media blackout in the PRC and became a symbolic nightmare and warning for other Taiwanese commercial pop singers, performing artists and, recently, even businesspersons.

The examples made of Taiwan citizens such as A-mei and Chi Mei Enterprises Group Chairman Hsu Wen-lung show the extremity and gravity of the intimidation campaign waged against Taiwan by the Chinese government and the degree to which this political campaign has infected the mentality of all too many PRC residents.

Ironically, both A-mei and those Chinese who protested against her seem to have forgotten that she sang the national anthem of the Republic of China, which was originally the hymn of the Whampoa Academy and the former ruling Kuomintang's party song and had nothing to do with the DPP or "Taiwan independence."

This confusion of the concepts of "resolutely eliminating pro-Chen singers," or "green-skinned performers" by self-styled "Chinese patriots" and the tacit acceptance of these labels by A-mei herself should send a sobering message to all Taiwanese, including "pan-blue" politicians, artists and businesspersons.

The message is the same as being sent by Beijing's plans to "legislate" a "unification promotion law" that would legally require Taiwan's absorption into the PRC as a special political region.

Quite simply, the message is that any position short of accepting Beijing's annexation of Taiwan as a local government under Beijing's "one China principle" is tantamount to "Taiwan independence."

We can sympathize with A-mei's predicament as a victim of PRC intimidation, but we cannot agree with her evident decision to be only a singer and engage in a self-denial of her human and civic rights as a Taiwan citizen.

A-mei's absurd decision to disavow "any political stance" reflects a frequently seen position - that of the ostrich - adopted by pop performers from Taiwan in their actions and words on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

In conflicts between the market and politics, performers - and their agents, managers and commercial sponsors - commonly make what seems to be the "wiser" and "easier" choice, namely to keep the profits coming in by drawing a clear line of distinction away from politics or social concerns or by declaring their political neutrality.

But is it truly correct or even feasible to separate politics and entertainment or business?

Actually, the very decision by A-mei and other performers to disavow "politics" is a clearly political action, namely a surrender of their own human, civic and political rights and dignity as a citizen of Taiwan in the face of bullying by the government of another hostile state. There are few acts that could be more political.

Are there other alternatives to such a surrender? Last weekend, audiences at the Formosa outdoor hard rock festival in Taipei saw one artist who has taken a different road. The U.S. singer Michelle Shocked has developed her concern for political issues, especially her opposition to war and commitment to feminism, into the core themes of her songs and through her performances has been able to influence mainstream American opinion instead of bowing down to the god of gold.

Even more dramatic is the case of John Lennon, one of the guiding spirits of The Beatles, whose songs, paintings and poetry expressed his bright and firm positions in many social and political issues, transformed his thoughts to lasting social influence and secured huge commercial success.

Indeed, passion and rebellion were the original guiding spirits that drove the rise of rock music and also its commercialized by-product pop music. The lyrics and the melodies of the best pop songs are still created from reflections or critiques of actual life, which includes political and social life as well as romance. Deliberate self-censorship by creators or singers to purge their songs of any "offensive" thoughts will only enervate their music.

There is no easy way to deal with such bullying. People who surrender their dignity and rights will find that their relief of pressure and intimidation will be short-lived as the appetite of a bully is never, never satisfied.

The only alternative is to hold firm and, by example, "educate" Chinese leaders to learn that they will have to deal with Chen and the DPP at the highest level and A-mei and the rest of the citizens of Taiwan in everyday life if they still want to improve cross-strait relations.

Taiwan's performers and industries must realize that only when we insist on our dignity, beliefs and rights can our creations and products - and our country - have life and vitality. As consumers, we should support Taiwanese artists who hold to their ideals.

(eTaiwanNews.comDPP 'encourages' A-mei's PRC concerts.  August 10, 2004.

A top Mainland Affairs Council official noted yesterday that the governing Democratic Progressive Party "encourages" pop singer Chang Hui-mei (張惠妹) to perform in China, in an attempt to downplay a controversy sparked after Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) questioned the diva's loyalty to Taiwan.

"The government encourages Chang Hui-mei to perform in China to convey Taiwan's artistic achievements developed under the liberal democratic system," said Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, in a radio interview.

After banning the aboriginal pop singer from performing in China for five years after she sang the national anthem at President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) inauguration in 2000, China allowed her to hold a concert in Beijing at the beginning of this month.

Remarks made by the singer, commonly known as A-mei, in Beijing led Lu to question her loyalty to the nation and wonder whether she would defend Taiwan or perform in concert in Beijing if a war broke out across the Taiwan Strait.

It is unclear how far Wu's comment will go in diminishing the controversy, especially as Lu insisted to Taiwan-based foreign correspondents yesterday that "A-mei should have a minimum (level of) patriotism."

The president has also attempted to ease the political pressure placed on A-mei, calling her a "patriotic artist" in the local media and saying he felt "sorry" for the pressure she has had to shoulder because of her performance at his inauguration in 2000, which branded her as a pro-independence supporter.

Furthermore, the report said that Chen "disagreed" with "someone's" demand that forced A-mei to make a choice between Taiwan and China.

"Artists have their own concerns and stages, and what the government should do is support and encourage these artists," Chen was quoted as saying.

(People's Daily)  Taiwan authorities' underhand trick in fussing about 'Chang Hui-mei event'.  August 13, 2004.

On August 5, Annette Lu raised a severe question about the matter concerning Taiwan's folk song singer Chang Hui-mei (A Mei)who recently went to Beijing to hold a singing performance: As "the two sides of the Taiwan Straits are in a state of a quasi-war, if the two sides are to start war, is it important for Chang Hui-mei to go to the mainland for a singing performance, or is it important to safeguard and defend the security of 23 million people?" Lu's remarks are hard for people to understand, if war breaks out between the two sides of the Strait, how can a singer be able to "safeguard and defend the security of 23 million Taiwan people? What's more, if war really breaks out between the two sides of the Straits, how can Chang Hui-mei go to the mainland to hold a singing performance?

It was not enough for Annette Lu to come forward alone, Taiwan's "head of the Administrative Yuan" You Hsi-kun that same day also criticized Chang Hui-mei, saying: "This time Chang went to China to repent, she should act cautiously, there is obviously problem with nationals' mental precaution." His words are obviously put more clearly than Lu's remark, she meant to ask Taiwan people to"keep mental vigilance" against the Chinese mainland., to always keep the mainland at a distance and to be hostile to it, it is best not to have dealings with the mainland.

Taiwan authorities'unreasonable accusation has again triggered the "Chang Hui-mei topic"on the Island.

In fact, the present premise of the remarks of Annette Lu and You Hsi-kun is crystal clear, the Chinese mainland is a "hostile country", going to a "hostile country" to hold a singing performance is, in their eyes, naturally an inconceivable thing. The remarks of Lu and You are naturally met with the strong doubtful questions by progressive public opinion on the Island, Hsiao Kuan-yu with Taiwan Solidarity Union said in defense of Lu, "Is it important to make money on the mainland, or is it important to safeguard Taiwan's security?"  His answer naturally is the latter, in the eyes of these "Taiwan independence" elements, anyone who goes to the mainland to develop himself for whatever reason should be subjected to criticism.

What's more, after Chang Hui-mei arrived in the mainland, she did not express her stand "identified by the state", nor did she take the initiative to act in keeping with the idea of "Taiwan independence, her actions have thus aroused the dissatisfaction of "Taiwan independence" elements. Notorious "Taiwan independence" hatchet man Wang Penhu said: Now many Taiwan artists have gone to the mainland to develop themselves, "The question of Ah Mei is also a question which Taiwan artists will face, be they in the blue or green color, singers can naturally have their personal political stance", but once they go out, what they hold is Taiwan passport, they cannot fail to have a national concept, with regard to national identification, they should also clearly express their attitude, and should not act in an ambiguous manner."

Therefore, Annette Lu and others made a big fuss about this incident, which is just like "Xiang Zhuang performed the sword dance as a cover for his attempt on Liu Bang's life"--acting with a hidden motive. What they really do not want to see is that Taiwan public lack the"national identification"that meets their own "Taiwan independence" standard. As fir Chang Hui-mei, she is nothing but a victim of Annette Lu and others on their road of pursuit of "Taiwan independence" identification. The reason why Lu and the like chose Chang Hui-mei as their target of attack is because Chang enjoys a high reputation, in Lu's words, Chang is an "international giant star", "Chang Hui-mei's capacity has gone beyond her identity as an original resident, her words and deeds have made it impossible for her to be treated as an ordinary person."Making use of such a person with high reputation, but taking her, who was originally a resident singer with a very low political sensitivity, as the target of attack, is just like killing a chicken to frighten the monkey, Lu and others thought they naturally could get an ideal effect.

In fact, this is a natural extension of "Taiwan independence" elements'consistent practice in their approach toward cross-Strait relations. Furthermore, if the realities of current cross-Strait relations and the Island's political situation are taken into consideration, they have more deep-seated aims.

Firstly, they create an atmosphere of tension to aggravate antagonism between the two sides of the Straits. "Taiwan independence" elements are well aware, if cross-Strait exchanges continue to expand and develop, that will deal a fatal blow to them. Increase of mutual understanding between people on both sides of the Straits will cause an immediate bankruptcy of the obscurantist policy pushed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and "Taiwan independence" forces, and immediate reduction in their living space. So they try every possible means to obstruct cross-Strait exchange. Leaving aside other things, the reversal on the question of the "three direct links"of mail, trade and air and shipping services has made it possible to see a segment of a whole. Lee Teng-hui said: The trial of strengths on the issue of "three links" between the two sides is "a smokeless war", the realization of one link among the "three direct links" would mean Taiwan's surrender. While Chen Shui-bian once also said: The "three links" are the final bargaining counter of Taiwan, which should not be realized until the last moment. The so-called "good will" in relation to negotiation on "three links" between the two sides, which he released only recently since he took office, has long been proved to be a politician's trick, once the mainland makes a positive response, they would immediately shrink back.

"Taiwan independence" elements' attack on Chang Hui-mei this time remains to be in the set pattern. Lu even upgrades cross-Strait relations to "the state of a quasi-war". According to her explanations, it is that:"We are worried they (the mainland) would take action against Taiwan before the year 2006, and our careful observation shows cross-Strait relationship has actually entered the state of quasi-war." In fact, what Lu is worried about is not that the mainland would take actions against Taiwan, but instead, the expansion of cross-Strait exchange and relaxation of cross-Strait relationship would gradually shake and corrode the social foundation of "Taiwan independence".

Secondly, they set the keynote for the election of the "Legislative Commission" at the end of this year. With the approaching of the election of the "Legislative Commission" at the end of this year, the Democratic Progressive Party would try to achieve the aim of more than half in the "Legislative Yuan" by taking advantage of the influence of the victory in "presidential" election. So, the topic for discussion on cross-Strait relations natural becomes a tool for mobilization. Because under the present circumstance wherein Taiwan is in an inferior position in relevance to the Chinese mainland, this topic is most capable of calling up the feeling of sadness on the part of Taiwan people, it is easy to make the impression that the "Communist Party of China would strike and oppress Taiwan", while "Taiwan independence" elements could portray themselves as heroes resisting the CPC, thereby gaining support from the general public. A look at the attack on Chang Hui-mei this time shows that the Democratic Progressive Party's strategy on cross-Strait relations about which a big fuss will be made during the election of the "Legislative Commission" at the end of this year has taken a hidden form.

Thirdly, they intensify their discourse about hegemony of "Taiwan independence" and follow the line of "Taiwan independence". By aid of the advantage of its ruling, the Democratic Progressive Party tries by hook and by crook to "green" the media, monopolize Taiwan's right of speech and proceed to create in Taiwan the hegemony of speech for "Taiwan independence". The attack on Chang Hui-mei this time is a striking example, the unspoken words are that under the circumstance of the DPP's ruling, if the "national identification" is in disagreement with the idea of "Taiwan independence", it will be subject to attack. In other words, anyone, no matter who he is, must be clear about "which side he chooses to stand" and is not allowed to have a space of neutrality, as long as he is a Taiwanese, even if he an artist like Chang Hui-mei, he is no exception.

To those general public whose "national identification" is not in conformity with the DPP's "Taiwan independence" idea and "Taiwan independence" discourse, a red label will immediately be strapped on them as "having no love for Taiwan" and as "fellow travelers of the CPC" and are thus subject to wanton attack. It is precisely by making use of such discourse hegemony that the DPP has formed the tyranny of minority.

Fourthly, they make fool of the general public by playing the trick of a thief crying "Stop Thief", and continue to defame the mainland. What is more unimaginable is that Lu holds that the Chinese mainland allowing Chang Hui-mei to go to Beijing to hold a singing performance is aimed "to make use of the complex of the original resident to provoke a contradiction between southern Fujian people and the original residents" This writer really does not know how to comment on this remark. During Taiwan's "general election", Lu and other politicians together provoked racial contradictions in Taiwan, as a consequence, racial antagonism in Taiwan has to date not calmed down. Taiwan society is now still in the suffering of avulsion. Now the mainland is devoted to improving cross-Strait ties and to strengthening people-to-people exchanges, and yet a label of "provoking racial contradictions in Taiwan" is strapped on it, such practice featuring a thief crying "Stop Thief"puts one in an awkward position. Hence one can see that Lu is ranked first in the world in terms of the shamelessness of a politician.

The fierce attack on Chang Hui-mei has aroused a big stir in Taiwan and courted the severe criticism of the "opposition party". Kuomintang Party chairman Lien Chan was of the opinion that Annette Lu and Yu Hsi-kun as leaders "should not engage only in talking, and their talks have made people panicky, but they do not say what is to be done next, that will throw society into more chaos."Lee Hung-tsun with the "Legislative Commission" of People First Party indicated that Annette Lu openly asked Chang Hui-mei the question about which is more important, singing or defense of Taiwan?" that makes people feel worried that the DPP would be like the 1950s McCarthyism in the United States, using political white terror to control artists' freedom. In the opinion of Tsai Shi-ping, Lu and others intentionally exaggerated external pressure and then introduced such pressure into Taiwan society, thereby achieving their aim of repressing the political opponents.

When Lu's remarks reached Chang Hui-mei's hometown in eastern Taiwan, fellow townspeople indignantly rebuked Lu as being in"mental disorder"as she made irresponsible remarks. Originally as a resident without party membership, Kao Chin Su Mei with the "Legislative Commission" of Taiwan Solidarity Union voiced support of Chang Hui-mei, lashed out at Lu for making an inappropriate speech compelling an original resident woman artist to make clear her attitude toward a cross-Strait political question, and called on the "government"not to bully the original resident.

Even within the green camp, there are people who disagree to the remarks of Lu and You. Luo Chi-ming with the "Legislative Commission" of Taiwan Solidarity Union was of the opinion that "politicians engage in policy-making, while artists are concentrated on performing, this should mean well water does not interfere with river water, but lumping this together with ideology really means 'stirring up dust anywhere'."

As for the concerned person Chang Hui-mei, She is more deeply perplexed by this matter. In the face of accusation, she said, "What I want to say is that there are many things which are beyond my control, let things of the adults world be settled by adults, I'm only a singer, very simple and pure." However, conscientious persons do not forgive her because she is simple and pure, Tsai Chi-fang with the "Legislative Commission" said, "How can there be a family without a state, can a 30-odd-year old be still a child? He assailed, "someone is not clear about to which country oneself as a national belongs, this is a fiasco of education."

Therefore, Chang Hui-mei said that since her return to Taiwan from the singing performance in Beijing, she has all along been in a state of scare, and has been feeling uneasy even when eating and sleeping. She said,"I don't know why my name would appear in political news". As a consequence, "now I don't know what I should say because I'm afraid I would misspeak." Even when she was invited by a political comment program to make the matter clear to the audience before the camera lens, the invitation was refused by her, "because she did not want to see that the more she explained, the more obscured the matter became."

The singing performance Chang Hui-mei held in Beijing facilitates cross-Strait exchange and is conducive to relaxing antagonism between the two sides of the Straits, and yet she was unreasonably censured for this by Annette Lu and others. She barely escaped being put in the other register of the "betraying Taiwan group". We cannot help asking: What is the real, fundamental cause of difficulty in breaking the deadlock between the two sides and the emergence of the grim situation across the Taiwan Straits? It is precisely because Chen Shui-bian, Annette Lu and others who refuse to accept the "one-China" principle, and instead are bent on engaging in "Taiwan independence"separatist activities, and pushing Taiwan to the dangerous brink of war, they are the real chief culprits that caused tension in cross-Strait relationship. Chen Shi-bian and Annette Lu keep on prating about human rights and democracy, professing that they take the welfare of the 23 million Taiwan people into hearts, but what would their practice of deliberately creating cross-Strait antagonism and provoking tension in cross-Strait relations bring to the Taiwan people? The answer is crystal clear.

The greater implication of this collection is that if this is the typical way people in Taiwan read China, then there will be major problems down the road about cross-strait relationships.  For example, Associated Press reports:

The poll, commissioned by Taiwan's Business Weekly magazine, was published as China and Taiwan, which separated amid civil war in 1949, were holding annual war games.

The survey reported that only 11 percent of respondents believed there could be a war with China in the next three years.  The poll said 64.5 percent thought a war was unlikely.  The rest gave no response.

The poll said 47.6 percent of those surveyed opposed waging war to maintain Taiwan's democracy and independence "If Taiwan declares independence through democratic means and China decides to militarily invade Taiwan.''  However, 34.7 percent supported a war in that event, and the rest had no opinion, the poll said.

The poll said a majority of Taiwanese believed that U.S. intervention would be vital to winning a conflict.  More than half the poll respondents - 52 percent - expected Washington to send troops, and 59.3 percent said Taiwan did not have the power to resist a Chinese invasion on its own.

The survey, conducted June 25-29, received 1,811 valid responses and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.  It was conducted by the respected Election Study Center at National Chengchi University in the capital, Taipei.

Where do the survey respondents get these ideas from?  They are counting on war being unlikely and, even if it happens, they believe that the United States will intervene militarily and therefore they can push further.  That is a subjective reading which may be objectively untrue.  Sheer belief will not make it real.  And the results can be truly disastrous.