"First Annual Apologise to China Contest" allows people to send in their
regrets on how they might have wronged the People’s Republic, the Hong
Kong Free Press news website reports. According to the website, one
person has apologised for having three children in the face of Beijing’s
now abandoned one-child policy; while another on the Facebook page is
sorry for wearing New Balance shoes, the global brand which was ruled to
be infringing upon the Chinese brand "New Barlun" in a Chinese court.
It’s apparently a reaction to videos released by celebrities recently,
apologising for actions and comments deemed to be insulting to China.
One of these apologies features Taiwanese pop singer Chou Tzu-yu, whose
apology for waving a Taiwanese flag during an online broadcast - an act
deemed offensive on the Chinese mainland - has been viewed on YouTube
over seven million times. Hong Kong actor Wong He made a similar apology
in January after suggesting former Chinese leader Zhou Enlai "may be
gay" and for posting a picture of the Dalai Lama on his Facebook page.
Such apologies are an important business. Actors and artists who don’t
send their regrets for actions deemed "anti-China" are often boycotted
or sacked. US singer Lady Gaga was reportedly added to the "banned list"
after meeting with the Dalai Lama last month.
The apology idea has struck a nerve with Chinese-language readers, with
the Facebook campaign page attracting over 12,000 likes and thousands of
comments. One Taiwanese user taunts mainland Chinese readers, saying:
"The Taiwanese people are holding their first contest to apologise to
the Chinese people, but you’ll have to bypass the internet censors
before you can see it. We are so sorry!"; while another says "In Taiwan
we can freely and openly criticise Tsai Ing-wen, and the leader from
mainland Xi Jinping. So sorry, China!"
Web users in mainland China have taken to the Weibo messaging service to
snipe back: "I’m sorry that you’re seeing all those actors and actresses
apologising to China so that they can keep making Chinese yuan!" says
one. Another sends his apologies for not falling for phone scams
originating in Taiwan: "I have received many messages from my Taiwanese
compatriots wanting to give me free iPhones and gifts, but I have never
replied. I apologise for not accepting your goodwill!"