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“Taiwan Spat: China Investigates Beloved Taiwanese Band, Intelligence Officials Cry Foul

Recent reports indicate Chinese authorities, in partnership with the Taiwanese Ministry of Culture, have launched a joint probe into the vocal technique of one of Taiwan’s most successful rock bands, Mayday. The investigation has sparked debate between those who view it as an attempt to stifle artistic expression and others who believe it is being used to undermine the credibility of the Taipei authorities for political motives. Taiwan intelligence personnel have come out to express the suspicion that the probe is indeed politically motivated. They have drawn parallels between the investigation of the popular rock band and the implementation of a new initiative by China, also known as the “Mainland Cultural Promotion Act”. The Act seeks to promote “Chinese unity and patriotism” through the use of popular culture, utilizing media such as television, film and music to spread good words and positive messages about the mainland. The timing of this probe has been very suspicious and has left many questioning the motives behind the Chinese Cultural Promotion Act. While the official reason given was to ensure that music industry companies comply with industry standards, suspicions are rampant that it is politically motivated. Taiwanese authorities are concerned that the investigation is an attempt to silence the voices of those expressing their political opinion in music videos. The music video targeted by the probe was “I Love Taipei Confession”, released by Mayday in 2011 and was a critical reflection of Taipei’s traffic and housing issues. Some have also speculated that the investigation is meant as a warning to other musicians to remain in “accordance” with the core socialist values of the mainland Chinese government. Mayday’s vocal technique has been widely praised for its’ distinctiveness. As such there are a number of valid questions as to why this particular song was targeted. It could be argued that the political and cultural views presented in the music pose a direct threat to the values of the mainland Chinese government, and as such the investigation was seen as a necessary evil. Regardless of the motives, it is clear that this investigation by the Chinese-Taiwanese joint probe is not a healthy expression of artistic expression. It is a move intended to stifle the voices of those in Taiwan who are trying to make a stand against political and social oppression. It is also a direct infringement on the right to express one’s opinion and the right to creative freedom. Unless this investigation is stopped, it will have a chilling effect on the expression of artistic expression for all of Taiwan’s artists.Taiwanese intelligence officials must therefore take steps to ensure that a fair investigation takes place and stop the probe if it cannot be established that the probe is indeed politically motivated.