Cambodia’s coastal resort of Sihanoukville Photo: Google Maps
Cambodia’s coastal resort of Sihanoukville Photo: Google Maps

A British man with the Chinese characters for Taiwan tattooed on his forehead was beaten up by a group of Chinese construction workers in a bar in Cambodia’s coastal resort of Sihanoukville on Saturday night.

British tourist Paul Farrell, who had lived in Taiwan for 14 years according to The Sun newspaper in London, was beaten by about 10 Chinese men who were reportedly construction workers and who took exception to his tattoos, which they saw as advocating Taiwanese independence.

Farrell wrote on his Facebook page that the group of Chinese became enraged “simply because the tattoo said ‘Taiwan’.” One Chinese man in the group saw his tattoo and shouted “Taiwan, Zhongguo (China in Mandarin),” to which Farrell retorted “Taiwan, Taiwan.” 

The group then attacked Farrell with metal poles. He said he lost a tooth in the brawl and other teeth were damaged and he couldn’t properly close his mouth.

It was not clear if local police were called after the incident, or the identity of these Chinese attackers. Taiwan papers reported that the Chinese men demanded Farrell concede that Taiwan was part of China. In the end, fearing for his life, he said: “Okay, you think Taiwan is China I’ll say Taiwan is China, I just want to leave.”He said afterwards he wanted to remove his tattoos which were “a stupid, drunken mistake.”

Paul Farrell with his Taiwan tattoos, which also made him a social media shooting star on the island, until the tussle that left his face partially disfigured. Photo: Facebook

Farrell had lived in Taiwan for 14 years and married a Taiwanese woman seven years ago. She owns a bar in Kaohsiung.

Last year photos of his “Taiwan” tattoos went viral on the island with numerous people applauding his courageous, one-of-a-kind support for the self-ruling island. He was interviewed and also invited to appear on several TV shows.