The China Film News, a magazine published by the China Film
Administration, made the announcement on its official WeChat
"China Film Administration says that it will suspend mainland
movies and their personnel from participating in 2019' 56th
Golden Horse Awards," said the post.
The move comes after the annual event, the Chinese-speaking
world’s version of the Oscars, last year became a lightning rod
for questions about Taiwanese independence, sparking a debate
between Taiwanese and mainland stars as well as netizens.
The state of ties between Beijing and the self-ruled island has
since become more tense, with China announcing that it would
stop issuing individual travel permits for Taiwan to Chinese
travellers last week, dealing a blow to the island's tourism
"We certainly would feel regret if it was true," Taiwan's Golden
Horse Film Festival said in a statement, adding that related
events will be held as scheduled.
Beijing has been using the international stage to assert its
sovereignty over the island amid rising Chinese pressure, which
also includes military drills. Taipei repeatedly said the
Chinese moves were aiming to manipulate the island's
presidential elections in January.
"From an industry point of view, the Golden Horse was a good
platform for exchanges on films among mainland, Taiwan and Hong
Kong," said Dong Shu, a Shanghai-based film critic.
"But some people in Taiwan had to get politically sensitive
content on it, things that crossed red lines for mainland China,
thus the nature of this award has been changed."
The Golden Horse Awards was founded in 1962 and is considered
one of the most prestigious awards in the Chinese-speaking film
industry, with submissions mainly coming from mainland China,
Hong Kong and Taiwan.
[to top of second column]
Last year, Chinese movie "Dying to Survive" won and was nominated in
7 award categories, while Chinese director Zhang Yimou won best
director for his period film "Shadow".
Taiwan is self-governed and has a democratically elected leadership,
but China claims the island as a breakaway province and has not
ruled out the use of force to ensure unification. The question of
Taiwan's formal independence is one of Beijing's most sensitive
China's content regulator has also been taking an extra-cautious
stance over its media industry in the run-up to the 70th anniversary
of the founding of the People's Republic, on Oct. 1, pulling off a
few blockbusters and banning "entertainment-driven" historical
dramas and idol dramas.
Reports of the suspension soon became a trending topic on China's
Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging service, with one related
hashtag receiving more than 68 million views Wednesday morning.
"Taiwan made this award political first, don't we have a right to
punch back?" said a Weibo commentator.
Others expressed disappointment at the decision.
"Politics aside, this is a lose-lose situation. There isn't an
impartial and matchable award in mainland China, what a pity!" said
(This copy corrects paragraph 3 figure to 56th, instead of 55th)
(Reporting by Brenda Goh in Shanghai, Pei Li in Beijing and Yimou
Lee in Taipei; Editing by Michael Perry)
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