Chang Hui-mei brushes off political rhetoric, talks Taiwan tourism

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff

Pop diva Chang Hui-mei yesterday celebrated her 32nd birthday by shooting a commercial for the world’s tallest building, Taipei 101, as part of her new duties as a spokeswoman for the Tourism Bureau. Chang, fondly known as A-Mei by her fans, was apparently in a high spirits even though she has been repeatedly dragged into a cross-strait war of words by vice president Lu. In July, A-Mei was forced to cancel a scheduled performance in the eastern city of Hangzhou, China, after hundreds of demonstrators chanted slogans and unfurled banners reading “pro-independence artists are not welcome.” She managed to stage a concert in Beijing several weeks later after being banned on the mainland for nearly five years following her performance of Taiwan’s national anthem at President Chen Shui-bian’s inauguration ceremony in 2000. Last week, she was faced with a tough question from Vice President Annette Lu, who asked the aboriginal pop artist to make a choice between China and Taiwan.

“If a war breaks out between the two sides, I want to know whether she will go ahead with singing in Beijing, or choose to safeguard the island’s 23 million people…Which one is more important for her?” Lu asked. In response, A-Mei stressed that as an artist, she had no intention to get involved in political issues which “should belong to the world of adults, and are too complicated for her to comment.” A-Mei has also been subject to verbal attacks by several outspoken TV political talk show hosts who faulted her for not taking sides in the cross-strait controversy. “My birthday wish is that (everybody) has love in his or her heart and all my friends to be healthy and happy,” A-Mei told reporters. She declined to comment further on any sensitive political questions. Instead, A-Mei spoke with great joy of her position on the Tourism Bureau. “I’m an ideal person to introduce the diverse traits and cultures of Taiwan as an aborigine and someone who grew up here.” “This is a very meaningful job,” she beamed. The Tourism Bureau’s commercial featuring A-Mei is expected to be aired in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong in early September. The commercial will showcase some of Taiwan’s best known tourist attractions in the government’s bid to boost international tourism. The pop diva is also expected to travel to these countries to promote Taiwan in person, according to reports.