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Taiwan stars trolled by Chinese nationalists for supporting island’s Olympic athletes

Falling foul of Chinese nationalists on social media, Taiwanese stars run the risk of losing valuable sponsorship by Chinese brands.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai. Photo: AP
Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai. Photo: AP

Taiwanese television host Dee Hsu and pop star Jolin Tsai have become the latest target of nationalist Chinese keyboard warriors, who condemn them for celebrating the performance of Taiwan’s athletes in the Olympics.

Hsu referred to Taiwan’s Olympians as “national players” online while Tsai congratulated them for their victories.

In China, the posts have been interpreted as support for Taiwan’s independence.

Hsu had posted about wanting to invite “our national players” to her house. After the abuse started, she claimed her Instagram post was mean to be a joke and has since deleted it.

But several high-profile brands like Unilever’s haircare brand Clear, sex toy maker Osuga, and soft drink maker Shou Quan Zhai had noticed her “betrayal” and soon cut ties with her.

“National interest is above everything,” the drinks company wrote on microblogging platform Weibo. “We firmly uphold the one China principle.”

According to local media, the brand terminations are expected to cost the 43-year-old TV host at least NT$32 million (US$1 million).

This was not the only Olympics-related controversy for the embattled TV host – who is one of the most well-known media personalities in the Chinese speaking world.

Chinese social media users were also outraged when she showed support for Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying after her badminton single’s final against China’s Chen Yufei.

“Despite your defeat I am still proud of you,” she had said on Instagram when Tai took the silver medal after a close match.

Her Instagram and Weibo pages have since been inundated with angry comments from Chinese users, with many calling her a traitor.

“If you’re going to support Taiwan independence, don’t ever come to mainland China to make money again. You can’t have both,” one Weibo user said.

Also on the sharp end of Chinese wolf warrior social media posts, pop star Tsai was condemned for not publicly showing support for China’s athletes when she posted praise and encouragement for Taiwanese Olympians.

“Don’t kowtow to Chinese renminbi anymore, you’re despicable,” a typical Weibo comment read.