How a controversial music competition takes a violent turn in Taipei

Multiple events in the singing competition series “Sing! China” has been held in the past three years as part of a cultural exchange program between Shanghai and China. (The China Post file photo)

It started with a question on a university’s decision to lend campus venue to outside events and escalated into a show-ending protest against Chinese influence on Sunday and subsequent attack of two protesters allegedly by China sympathizers. How a singing event turned violent and become a thorny issue for Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je?

Multiple events in the singing competition series “Sing! China” has been held in the past three years as part of a cultural exchange program between Shanghai and China, according to Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je.

The Sunday activity was hosted by National Taiwan University (NTU), one of the country’s top universities, at its newly refurbished athletic field. A group NTU students protested against the university’s decision to lend the field to the event – which closed the venue for a week – in violation to the principle that the students should have the priority in the use of university venues. The protesting students also pointed out that part of the world-class athletics field has been damaged for staging the event.

The dispute took a political turn after it was reported by the mainstream media. Some highlighted a poster for the event that described NTU as “Taipei City Taiwan University”, which detractors argued diminished Taiwan’s sovereignty. The Taipei City government, however, said that they have scrapped that wording and the final version of the poster read “Taiwan University”.

Pro-independent groups crashed into the singing competition on Sunday at around 4 p.m., throwing objects up to the stage. Citing concern for the safety students and others present at the time, the university canceled the lending permission of the athletic field, ending the show. Protesting pro-independent and student groups then seized the stage. Meanwhile, pro-China individuals showed up at the campus, calling out on pro-independent and student protesters.

The student demonstrators ended their action on 4:47 p.m. and left the stage to pro-independent groups. At around 5 p.m. to students on their way out of the protest were allegedly attacked by men including a member of Chinese Unity Promotion Party, a political group supporting Taiwan’s reunification with China. Chang An-lo, a former gang leader and leader of the Chinese Unity Promotion Party, applauded the alleged attacker and accused the students of starting the fight.

Taipei Mayor Ko said he supports exchanges that increase goodwill between Taiwan and China and called on the Taiwanese public to be confident in the face of outside influence. The mayor, however, said he needed to consider what to do next in terms of cross-strait cultural exchanges in the future. 

The China Post staff