Taiwan web users join 'Apologise to China' contest

Header image from the 'Apologise to China' Facebook page Image copyright Facebook
Image caption "I'm sorry that the sky is blue" says one contributor

Thousands of people from Hong Kong and Taiwan have signed up to a satirical Facebook event to offer "apologies" to China.

The "First Annual Apologise to China Contest" allows people to send in their regrets on how they might have wronged the People's Republic, the Hong Kong Free Press news website reports. According to the website, one person has apologised for having three children in the face of Beijing's now abandoned one-child policy; while another on the Facebook page is sorry for wearing New Balance shoes, the global brand which was ruled to be infringing upon the Chinese brand "New Barlun" in a Chinese court.

It's apparently a reaction to videos released by celebrities recently, apologising for actions and comments deemed to be insulting to China. One of these apologies features Taiwanese pop singer Chou Tzu-yu, whose apology for waving a Taiwanese flag during an online broadcast - an act deemed offensive on the Chinese mainland - has been viewed on YouTube over seven million times. Hong Kong actor Wong He made a similar apology in January after suggesting former Chinese leader Zhou Enlai "may be gay" and for posting a picture of the Dalai Lama on his Facebook page.

Such apologies are an important business. Actors and artists who don't send their regrets for actions deemed "anti-China" are often boycotted or sacked. US singer Lady Gaga was reportedly added to the "banned list" after meeting with the Dalai Lama last month.

The apology idea has struck a nerve with Chinese-language readers, with the Facebook campaign page attracting over 12,000 likes and thousands of comments. One Taiwanese user taunts mainland Chinese readers, saying: "The Taiwanese people are holding their first contest to apologise to the Chinese people, but you'll have to bypass the internet censors before you can see it. We are so sorry!"; while another says "In Taiwan we can freely and openly criticise our President Tsai Ing-wen, and the leader from our neighbouring country Xi Jinping. So sorry, China!"

Web users in mainland China have taken to the Weibo messaging service to snipe back: "I'm sorry that you're seeing all those actors and actresses apologising to China so that they can keep making Chinese yuan!" says one. Another sends his apologies for not falling for phone scams originating in Taiwan: "I have received many messages from my Taiwanese compatriots wanting to give me free iPhones and gifts, but I have never replied. I apologise for not accepting your goodwill!"

See also: Why a US-Japanese actress apologised to Chinese audiences

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