SEOUL • Taiwanese K-pop singer Chou Tzu-yu's agency issued a new statement on Thursday to clarify her stance, after some seemingly innocent flag-waving landed her in political and commercial trouble with China.
JYP Entertainment, which has suspended the 16-year-old's activities in China, said in the statement: "Chou was born in Taiwan and her relations with Taiwan are unbreak- able... However, not all Taiwanese are pro-independence activists. Tzu-yu has never made any remarks in support of Taiwan independence and online rumours that she supports Taiwan independence are groundless. She understands the 'one China' principle and respects it."
The controversy arose after Chou, one of nine members of all-girl band Twice, brandished a Taiwanese flag during a recent online broadcast. The online community in China reacted angrily, with suggestions that 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. Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province and is extremely sensitive about any moves towards Taiwan declaring independence.
Twice is a multinational group which also boast three members from Japan. The clip that caused the trouble showed Chou and the three Japanese girls each waving the South Korean flag in one hand and their own flag in the other.
It is not the first time the Taiwanese flag has put an entertainer in the spotlight.
Last year, American singer-songwriter Katy Perry caused a stir in Taiwan and China when she appeared on stage draped in a Taiwanese flag at a concert in Taipei, while donning a glittering gold dress adorned with sunflowers - the symbol of anti-China student protests in Taiwan in 2014.