Contestant at The Voice of China highlights divide between Taiwan and mainland China

Alia | July 25th, 2013 - 9:58 pm

2The Voice of China, a reality talent show adapted from “The Voice” in the US, is one of China’s most popular talent shows among a million others. It started on Zhejiang Satellite TV from July, 2012 and is sponsored by Jiaduobao, a popular cooling herbal tea brand in China. The show is so popular that it ranks among the top trending topics on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblog service, after almost every single episode.

While most of the show’s contestants are from mainland China, contestants from Hong Kong or Taiwan are not unseen. Take last week’s episode for example, there is one rock grandpa from Hong Kong. And there is Ye Weiting from Taiwan, who is at the center of the current controversy.

“My name is Ye Weiting. I’m 26 years old. I’m from China, Taipei, Pingtung.”

Thus is how Ye introduced herself to the millions of viewers of the show last Friday. The introduction is weird in two aspects. First, Taipei, as a city, and Pingtung, as a county, is actually at the same administrative level. To say “Taipei, Pingtung” ’s like to say “Beijing, Hebei province.”

The bigger issue, however, is with the word “China” before“Taipei.” To make things worse, Ye is one of the Taiwanese aborigines, many of whom are among the most hardcore supporters of an independent Taiwan.

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Ye isn’t the first Taiwanese coming to the show. In fact, two of the four judges this year are from Taiwan. One of the two, Zhang Huimei, was once banned in mainland China for years after she performed the National Anthem of the Republic of China (Taiwan national Anthem) in 2000. She made her comeback just fine. Ye isn’t even the first contestant singing at the show. The only difference is that all the others were introduced as “from Taiwan.”

When hearing “Taiwan/Taipei” alone, viewers from the mainland would automatically think that Taiwan is used as if it’s a province in China, like in “I’m from Guangzhou province”. Viewers from Taiwan, on the other hand, would assume that Taiwan is referred to as an independent country, like in “I’m from France”. Everyone is happy with their own interpretation and no one fights.

But “China, Taipei” is an entirely different story. Ye’s introduction definitely touches many nerves back home. Below is a sample of comments left by Taiwan netizens on Facebook and Youtube.

bushangels: “The other Taiwan contestants didn’t say ‘China, Taipei”, so this must be at Ye’s own will. She wasn’t forced to say so by the show. She does so either to create buzz or to ‘kiss ass’.”

CHU YUN Yu: “Why China Taipei? Taiwan is Taiwan. China is China.”

andy102988881: “Taiwan artists are pathetic. They have to reply on the mainland to be popular.”

譽家 林: “We are Taiwanese, not Chinese dogs. We are different just like human beings and animals are different.”

DC D: “Your parents, family members and ancestors would all cry and be angry at you [Ye] for saying so.”

Jeff Lin: “China Taipei? WTF! Please move to mainland because no one in Taiwan welcomes you [Ye] back.”

李伯軒: “You [Ye] become popular in China, but you will receive no cheers from your homeland. Taiwan is your mother country and you betrayed her.”

楊睿語 : “As a Taiwanese aborigine myself, I feel ashamed for you.”

RA YA : “You [Ye] have no national pride. Please never come back to Taiwan and just stay in mainland.”

Cat OrLion: “You [Ye] traded your soul and national dignity for money and fame.”

Max Lo: “Please stay in China. Taiwan doesn’t need a traitor.”

Chinese netizens from the mainland, however, think Taiwan netizens are completely overreacting and being ridiculous. Many see no point in arguing because it’s just a reality show and all that Ye wants is to be a singer. She performed good and she stayed at the show. End of story.

Others don’t understand what the big deal is, because, like one netizen 塔拉Betti asked: “What’s wrong with admitting that Taiwan is part of China? It’s of course a part of China.” To them, the association of Taiwan with China is a given. Netizen 木子李-Ly commented: “Taiwan is part of China. It has been so throughout history.” Another netizen Mmiley_ commented: “Taiwan isn’t part of China? Go check with the United Nations and see if they agree.”

This isn’t the first time that The Voice of China ran into political controversies. Last year, the show has been widely criticized by netizens for crowning Liang Bo, who sang “I Love You China” in the season finale which was aired one day before China’s National Day. Many thought that Liang won not because he had the best voice but because he kissed the right ass at the right time.  In China, everything can be political.

Check out Ye’s performance at last Friday’s The Voice of China

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