TAIPEI (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Monday that a Chinese company’s boycott of YouTube personality Potter King over a viral video that features her was regrettable.
Taiwan is a free society in which it is normal and acceptable to refer to the country’s leader as president and even to “flirt” with the head of state, Tsai said, referring to the humorous video titled “The First Person in the World to Flirt with a President.”
In contrast, people in China are not even permitted to talk about their president and there is no separation of politics and economics, as evidenced by the Potter King issue and other incidents, Tsai said.
The video, which gained about 3 million views in less than two days, shows Tsai and Potter King engaged in a humorous conversation during her visit to his production studio in Kaohsiung on Saturday.
On Monday, Tsai told reporters that she visited the studio to gain a better understanding of the production of emerging media and the creative work of young people in the southern Taiwan city.
“We enjoy creative and economic freedom in a safe and democratic environment,” she said.
According to Potter King’s production team, Juyang Media, its Chinese promoter Papitube on Sunday withdrew from their cooperation agreement, after Potter King refused to take down the video, as requested by the Chinese company.
Juyang Media said it stood to lose millions of Chinese yuan in revenue as a result of Papitube’s withdrawal, but it respected the decision.
“What we support is democracy, our own city and country,” Juyang Media manager Wu Shen-teh (吳深得) said. “We hope our creative freedom in our own land will be respected.”
The statement followed a Facebook post by Potter King on Sunday, saying that shortly after the video was posted on Saturday, Papitube had requested that the word “President” be removed from the title of the video. Potter King also said that he could not access his account on the Chinese social media Weibo, where he has about 1 million followers, as it appeared that his password had been compromised.
However, the YouTuber said, he would not kowtow to China and would rather lose money than allow anyone to tell him not to refer to his country’s leader as “president.”
“That is totally unacceptable,” he said, adding that he had told Papitube it did not have the right to dictate the content of his productions.
Meanwhile, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), who is the opposition Kuomintang’s 2020 presidential candidate, said it was not right for China to penalize Potter King over the video.
“I’m protesting, and I want to stand in support of Potter King,” Han said.
Han said that interactions, exchanges and engagements between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should be based on the understanding that “politics is politics, economics is economics.”
He also expressed the hope that other Chinese businesses would not follow Papitube’s lead and punish Potter King because of the video.