HONG KONG (AP) — China has reversed its decision to import a hit Taiwanese film that highlights Japan’s 50-year colonial rule over the island because it may be offensive to nationalist sentiment on the Chinese mainland, news reports said.
“Cape No. 7” is Taiwan’s most successful movie in years, earning more than $6.9 million since its release on Aug. 22. It became the island’s second top-grossing movie after the Hollywood romance “Titanic.”
“Cape No. 7” is about a failed Taiwanese rock musician who returns to his small coastal hometown and is forced to play in a hastily assembled amateur band that will open for a Japanese pop star. He falls in love with the Japanese publicist overseeing the show.
The movie is also interspersed with a voice-over that reads from love letters written by a Japanese man to his Taiwanese love interest just after the island’s colonial era ended. Japan ruled Taiwan from 1895 to 1945.
Cecille Huang, a marketing official at Taiwan’s ARS Film Production, the company that made “Cape No. 7,” said it had sold distribution rights to the import and export arm of the state-run China Film Group.
But “Cape No. 7” has sparked worries among Chinese officials that it might cause a nationalistic backlash in the mainland, newspapers reported. Japan also occupied parts of mainland China before and during World War II.
Chen Yunlin, a senior Chinese official in charge of relations with Taiwan, said the movie was tainted by its portrayal of Taiwanese who had been subject to “colonial brainwashing,” Taiwan’s United Daily News reported on its Web site Dec. 1.
Reached by phone Monday, Yuan Wenqiang, general manager of China Film Group’s import-export arm, said company officials were discussing the movie with government film censors.
“The process is ongoing,” he said.
Huang said she was still confirming the newspaper reports and had no further comment.
China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949, with the mainland ruled by the Chinese Communist Party and the small island ruled by the Nationalists. Beijing continues to claim now-democratic Taiwan as its territory and has threatened to retake it by force, while many Taiwanese say they have a separate cultural identity and prefer to keep the status quo.
China also decided not to release the 2005 Hollywood movie “Memoirs of a Geisha,” apparently fearful that the sight of Chinese actresses Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li portraying Japanese entertainers would offend mainland viewers. ♦