The Golden Horse Awards, the Chinese-language film industry’s version of the Oscars, got overshadowed by controversy this year after Fu Yue, the director of Best Documentary winner “Our Youth in Taiwan,” used her acceptance speech to advocate for Taiwan’s independence. “I hope one day our country will be recognized and treated as a truly independent entity,” Fu said. “This is my biggest wish as a Taiwanese.”
According to China Film Insider, the audience at the Golden Horse Awards reacted awkwardly to Fu’s speech. Tension between mainland China and Taiwan has existed for decades. Although Taiwan has been self-ruling since 1949, Beijing still considers Taiwan to be a wayward province and has gone to great lengths to limit its independence. Most recently, Beijing pushed airlines to stop naming Taiwan a country.
Television and streaming coverage of the awards ceremony went black as Fu’s speech was censored in China for her remarks. Additionally, Chinese actress Gong Li reportedly declined to go on stage to announce the evening’s final winner after the controversy ignited by Fu’s speech. China Film Insider reports filmmakers skipped the post-ceremony dinner because of Fu, while some of the celebrity parties planned for afterwards were cancelled.
The controversy was amplified by Tu Men, a former Best Actor winner at the Golden Horse Awards. Following Fu’s speech, the actor referred to Taiwan as “Taiwan, China” during a public appearance at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei. The phrase is commonly used to belittle Taiwan’s independence. Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen then took to social media to celebrate Fu’s victory.
“We have never accepted the phrase ‘Taiwan, China’ and we never will accept this phrase, Taiwan is simply Taiwan,” Tsai wrote. “I am proud of yesterday’s Golden Horse Awards, which highlights the fact that Taiwan is different from China, and our freedom and diversity is why this is a land where artistic creations can be free.”
The controversy over Fu’s speech went viral in China. According to ABC News, a report on the story published by China Daily reached over 8 billion reads and 12 million comments on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. Fu’s award-winning film “Our Youth in Taiwan” is a documentary involving a Taiwanese student movement advocate, a celebrity Chinese student, and a Taiwanese documentary filmmaker talking about social change.