President urges Chinese netizens to respect freedom of speech

President Tsai Ing-wen said in her Facebook post, "Taiwan is Taiwan, we have never accepted the 'China Taiwan' formula and we will never do so."

Taipei, Nov. 19 (CNA)-Taiwan welcomes all filmmakers to visit and enjoy the freedom of speech available to everyone in the country including visitors, but the views of the Taiwanese people should be respected, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Sunday.

Tsai was responding to the debate between netizens in Taiwan and China over the acceptance speech given by Taiwanese documentary director Fu Yu (傅榆) at the 55th Golden Horse Awards ceremony on Saturday.

“I hope one day my country will be treated as an independent entity,” said Fu, whose film “Our Youth in Taiwan”– which focuses on the 2014 Sunflower Movement against a proposed trade deal with China — won this year’s best Documentary Award.

Later, award-winning Chinese actor Tu Men (涂們) said when he went on the stage that he was honored to present an award at the Golden Horse Awards ceremony in “China Taiwan” and that he felt “both sides are like family.”

Fu’s speech triggered a flood of angry comments from Chinese netizens on her Facebook page as did a message of support posted by Taiwan’s Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) on Saturday night.

“We have never accepted the ‘China Taiwan’ formula and we will never do so,” Tsai said in her Facebook post. “Taiwan is Taiwan.”

All filmmakers are welcome to engage in exchanges with people in Taiwan where no one disappears because they hold a view different from others, nor will they be silenced when they express their opinions.

There is also no mechanism to prevent searches of sensitive words in the country, Tsai said.

“However, as much as we want visitors to enjoy the freedom of Taiwan, they should also respect the people of Taiwan and their way of thinking,” she added.

The Facebook pages of Fu and Cheng have been inundated with critical comments, “which is a form of cyber bullying we are opposed to,” Tsai said “Any individual who expresses his or her opinions freely should not be subject to bullying or psychological threats.”

When Fu was speaking, the live broadcasting of the ceremony on China’s online platforms was cut off, while Chinese actress Fan Bingbing (范冰冰), along with other Chinese artists, immediately posted comments on their Weibo accounts saying that “China allows for no loss of its territory, even a bit.”

China sees Taiwan as part of its territory, and vows eventually to bring the self-ruled island under its flag.

Meanwhile, several celebratory events after the awards ceremony held by Chinese winners were closed to the press for the first time ever. Chinese actress Zhou Xun (周迅) did not show up at a press conference scheduled in Taipei Sunday and Chinese singer Kelly Yu (于文文) called off her scheduled trip to Taiwan the same day.