(From AFP)

By Amber Wang

A row over a teenage Taiwanese K-pop star forced to apologise for waving the island’s flag was rapidly turning into an international incident Saturday, stealing the spotlight from Taiwan’s presidential elections.

Leadership candidates running for office in Saturday’s pivotal vote demanded answers from China and South Korea after the video apology from a tired and sombre Chou Tzu-yu, 16, went viral, with more than 2.6 million hits.

Tzuyu with Taiwan flag in online broadcast
Chou with Taiwan flag in online broadcast

The controversy dominated news coverage in Taiwan on election day, with China ties a key issue for voters.

“There is only one China and the two sides are one,” Chou said in the apology, posted on YouTube by South Korean agency JYP Entertainment.

“As a Chinese person my improper words and behaviour during my activities abroad hurt my company and the feelings of netizens across the strait,” Chou added.

“I have decided to stop my activities in China for now to seriously reflect on myself.”

Based in South Korea, Chou is a singer with all-girl band TWICE.

She waved Taiwan’s official flag on a recent online broadcast, angering Chinese netizens, with suggestions she was pushing a pro-Taiwan independence agenda.

Taiwan has ruled itself since a split with the Chinese mainland in 1949 after a civil war, but has never formally declared independence.

Beijing sees it as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office blamed “political forces in Taiwan” for using Chou’s case to “provoke conflict”, according to a report from state news agency Xinhua, posted on the affairs office website. Read more

Chou Tzu-yu
Chou Tzu-yu

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