China’s determination to punish the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) over the screening of the Kadeer film has once again backfired. What is at stake this time is the goodwill of Taiwanese people. In short, this saga has the potential of winding back cross-strait ties that seem to have been improving since the Nationalist Party headed by Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan’s President in May last year.
The Taiwan Government Information Office (GIO) has expressed its disapproval of the withdrawal of the movie Miao Miao from the MIFF. A spokesman from GIO confirmed that the producer of the film had failed to consult the GIO before pulling the film out. The withdrawal of the film from the Festival had hurt the image of Taiwan. Miao Miao was produced by a Hong Kong film maker with funding from the GIO. There is a possibility that the GIO will ask the producer for a reimbursement of the NT$4 million subsidy. The GIO is also reserving the right to sue the Hong Kong producer Jet Tone for breach of contract.
Miao Miao’s withdrawal has met with mounting criticism in Taiwan in the past two days. To many Taiwan people, the withdrawal suggested not only that Miao Miao, a film made with Taiwan funding, was categorized as a Chinese film in an international film festival, but also that Taiwan was siding with Beijing in the repression of Uighurs.
The Taipei Economic and Relations Office (TECO) in Australia has also informed the MIFF organiser that TECO intends to continue as a sponsor for the Festival because apart from Miao Miao, Taiwan still had two short films screening at the festival. They are Joyce Agape and The Pursuit of What Was.
A journalist from Taipei Times wrote the following remarks in his blog about the saga. I am quoting him because his views are shared by many of my Taiwanese friends:
Hopefully a price will be paid by those who made the decision to pull the movies from the festival, if only in bad publicity and diminishing sales at the box office. One can hope, too, that this will have served as a wake-up call for Taiwanese creative artists and government agencies such as the GIO that have pushed for cross-strait cooperation in the arts. One thing is sure: I’m never paying to see a movie directed, written or produced by Wang Kar-wai again. My Blueberry Nights, though cute, wasn’t all that great anyway.
Under six decade of brutal Chinese rule, the Uyghur people have not enjoyed a day of peace. They love peace. They yearn for peace. And we also struggle for their human right and for democracy.
It is the Chinese Government accused us of separatism, and that’s Chinese Government’s mantra. And our goal is self-determination, which was actually part of the autonomous system granted to us by the Chinese authorities. And our hope is to hold the dialogue with the Chinese authorities to peacefully resettled the East Turkestan issue.
When my people, just like you, when they could truly enjoy freedom, when they could live like human beings. Until that day comes, I will not stop what I am doing.
According to The 7.30 Report, staff at MIFF are continuing to battle cyber terrorism and harassment from fenqing-type Chinese nationalists. Ned and I would like to express our deepest admiration for these brave Australians. It is not easy to have to constantly look behind one’s shoulder when walking down the street. And we curse Laojun, the Chinese national who claimed to be responsible for the cyber crime against MIFF, and the journalist who helped to promote the course of this cyber criminal, all in the name of fair and balanced reporting??!!!