Sunday, March 3, 2024

Mayday: Taiwanese intelligence official claims China’s lip-syncing investigation into top Taiwanese rock band is politically motivated

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Tapei, Taiwan

China’s ongoing investigation into lip-syncing allegations by a popular Taiwanese rock band may be linked to Beijing’s attempts to influence Taiwan’s upcoming elections, Taiwanese security officials claim did.

Mayday, one of the most prominent rock groups in the Chinese-speaking world, has been under official investigation in China since early December over allegations of lip-syncing at a recent performance in Shanghai. The band’s label has repeatedly denied the accusations.

In a recent briefing on security issues, two Taiwanese intelligence officials claimed that Chinese authorities have been pressuring Mayday for months to publicly declare that China and Taiwan are part of the same country. . The repeated requests coincided with the start of the band’s China tour in May, said Taiwanese officials, who requested anonymity for security reasons.

“He was encouraged to express his (political) stance during interactions with fans and public interviews,” officials said at a news conference, which was also attended by CNN. They added that this assessment was based on information collected by China’s Taiwanese security services.

When Mayday did not respond, Taiwanese officials claimed that the Chinese Communist Party’s powerful propaganda arm, working with state media, mounted pressure by provoking widespread public debate about the lip-syncing allegations at the concert.

A source said, “This is the first time that we are pursuing (a Taiwanese artist) on such an unprecedented scale, so we have decided to make this incident public.”

Taiwanese officials have expressed suspicions that China’s investigation into May Day may be related to Taiwan’s presidential election in January. Taiwan has previously accused China of using a variety of disinformation, military and economic operations to influence the race.

Tensions over the Taiwan Strait have increased in recent years, with China’s ruling Communist Party increasing military and political pressure on Taiwan. In Taiwan, elections are often a litmus test of public opinion toward Beijing, given the differing views of each party on relations with China. Taiwan’s current ruling party is hated by Beijing’s leaders.

CNN has not been able to independently verify Taiwan’s intelligence assessment.

But three people familiar with Taiwan’s pop music scene say it is not unusual for Taiwanese artists to face political restrictions in exchange for permission to perform in mainland China, a highly lucrative market due to its large population. It is said that there is no.

CNN has contacted the Chinese Communist Party’s Propaganda Department and the China Cyberspace Administration for comment.

Visual China Group/Getty Images

Taiwanese band Mayday, seen at the Golden Melody Awards Ceremony held in Taipei on June 24, 2017, is one of the top rock groups in the Chinese-speaking world.

Some artists from Taiwan have faced difficulties in China for speaking out about the autonomous island, which they consider their own territory even though the Chinese Communist Party leadership has never ruled it. Some people are.

However, Mayday, also known as the “Asian Beatles,” have largely stayed away from politics and have maintained immense popularity among their fans in mainland China.

The lip-syncing accusations center on Mayday’s recent performance in Shanghai, where eight performances were held over 10 days in mid-November, drawing a total audience of more than 360,000 people.

The controversy began in late November, when a music video blogger on Bilibili, one of China’s largest video sharing platforms, used computer software to record vocals on 12 songs live recorded by fans at a Mayday concert in Shanghai in November. It started when I posted a video that I used and analyzed. 16.

The vlogger claimed that analysis revealed that the band’s lead singer, Asin, lip-synced at least five songs during the three-hour show, and that the vocalist’s singing was accurate to those songs. He said he was in sync, but the pitch shifted significantly on other songs. song.

The vlogger’s claims quickly gained attention on the social media platform Weibo, where they became a top trending topic and received hundreds of millions of views.

The Shanghai Culture and Tourism Administration, the city government department that oversees commercial performances, announced the investigation on December 3, which was widely reported in China’s major state media.

Mayday’s record company B’in Music said in a statement earlier this month that it dismissed the lip-syncing accusations as “malicious attacks, rumors and slander” that seriously tarnished the band’s image.

The record company did not respond to CNN’s inquiries about Taiwan’s intelligence assessment.

CNN has also reached out to China’s Taiwan Affairs Office and Bilibili’s music video blogger for comment.

According to Chinese media, the Shanghai Culture and Tourism Administration announced on Monday that an investigation was underway.

Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

Taiwan is in the middle of a presidential election

Taiwanese artists have faced bad experiences in the past when seemingly innocuous comments crossed political red lines during performances in China.

In August, a Taiwanese indie band faced significant backlash after telling a crowd in Shanghai that they were happy to hold their first show in China, despite the fact that Taiwan is not part of the country. It was a gaffe that made me think. They then apologized and offered a refund.

In 2000, popular Taiwanese singer Ah Mei was suspended for one year for singing Taiwan’s official national anthem at former President Chen Shui-bian’s inauguration ceremony. Mr. Chen headed the Democratic Progressive Party, which is ostracized in Beijing because of its pro-independence tendencies.

“Many Taiwanese artists have to self-censor,” said a veteran Taiwanese music producer, who asked that his name not be published because he still works in the industry.

“They are often unable to say anything related to Taiwanese politics, or they can easily lose performance opportunities.” [in China]”

The producer also pointed out that it is unusual for lip-syncing allegations to make headlines in China.

“While so many similar accusations are made against various artists every year, it is truly unusual for something to flare up like this,” they said.

Cardiff University lecturer Lin Chenyu, who specializes in Chinese censorship of Taiwanese music, said the pressures faced by Taiwanese artists had increased in recent years.

Lin said that while it was once enough to simply not make pro-Taipei statements, Taiwanese artists are increasingly under pressure from Chinese authorities to express support for the “motherland.” Ta.

For example, many Taiwanese artists have posted on social media to celebrate China’s National Day in recent years, but have remained silent on Taiwan’s own National Day, she said.

“The pressure is especially great for megastars,” she added.

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