Taiwanese actor dropped from Chinese film on ‘independence issue’

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • Updated: Jul 18, 2016 15:50 IST
Leon Dai appeared in Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s martial arts movie, The Assassin. (Cannes Film Festival)

This may be hard to believe but is true. A renowned Taiwanese actor has been taken off the lead part in a Chinese film reportedly because he spoke for the independence of his country. What is even harder to digest is that the entire movie shoot was completed in June. The action indicates the kind of doggedness which China has towards the arts.

The Chinese film, No Other Love, is a romantic comedy helmed by the commercially sought-after Zhao Wei, and a statement from the producers -- who fired the Taiwanese star, Leon Dai -- closed the issue by submitting an apology that read: “Sorry for hiring the wrong person... After multiple communications with Dai, his stance was still unclear. Therefore, the director and all investors unanimously agreed to remove Dai from his leading role… The director and the entire crew dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to China. We are all Chinese, and we firmly support the one China policy. Our country’s interests are our top priorities… Any ambiguous stance over the country and national identity is intolerable.”

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Leon Dai with actor Michelle Yeoh in The Assassin.

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Dai has been a supporter of Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement -- which is against closer links between mainland China and Taiwan. He, however, said also in a statement that he was “against oppression and respects the views of other people, but is not a member of any political party and is not a supporter of Taiwan independence”.

Dai’s dismissal comes at a time when there is a strong nationalist sentiment sweeping across China that has been provoked by a United Nations ruling on South China Sea in support of The Philippines’ claim to the disputed region. A number of Chinese celebrities have been sending messages claiming loyalty to Beijing.

Recently, Dai appeared in Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s martial arts movie, The Assassin (which won the Best Director Palm d’Or at Cannes in 2015) -- set in the final years of the Tang Dynasty in 8th century China.

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