Chinese hackers crashed the website of Australia's biggest film festival, organisers said on Saturday, escalating tensions over a visit here by the exiled leader of the Uighur minority.Stay classy, Chinese people!
Online bookings for the Melbourne International Film Festival had to be shut down after the site was bombarded with phony purchases which resulted in the entire program being sold out, said festival spokeswoman Asha Holmes.
A Chinese citizen living in the United States had alerted organisers to the viral campaign, which originated from a website in China titled "A Call to Action to All Chinese People", said Holmes.
The site explained how to set up a fake profile to buy tickets, and aimed to crash the festival's site in protest against its screening of "Ten Conditions of Love" and its hosting of the documentary's subject, Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer.
However, from the Taiwan perspective, this is the kicker:
China has labelled the US-based Muslim minority leader a "criminal" and accuses her of masterminding the July 5 Xinjiang riots that left at least 197 people dead and 1,600 injured.What? Taipei pulled out of the festival? This is not in other news reports of the attacks and the boycott (see WaPo and The Age). Moreover, a Taiwan Trade and Economic Office (TECO) in Australia press release dated the 28th (Tuesday) says:
Canberra has rebuffed Chinese objections to the visit by Kadeer, saying she is not a "terrorist" and there is no reason to exclude her.
All Chinese language films were withdrawn from the festival in protest, and Hong Kong and Taipei's trade offices both pulled their sponsorship.
As far as I can see, there have been no updates at the TECO site on this issue since Tuesday. Hence the AFP report appears to be false.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia (TECO) is very surprised and regretful to hear that the distributing company of the film entitled “Miao Miao”, namely Fortissimo Films, which is based in Hong Kong, has decided to withdraw the screening of “Miao Miao”, directed by Taiwanese Cheng Hsiao-Tse.
The withdrawal is due to the recent boycott made by the authorities of the Chinese People’s Republic which controls Hong Kong, against the Melbourne International Film Festival. This has nothing to do with Taiwan which is in support of the continuous participation of the film and the freedom of expression and human rights.
The TECO regards that the arts is a special medium that should be above politics and free from political dictation. The TECO firmly believes that it is wrong to boycott this international cultural event because of political differences. The TECO feels very disappointed that the Australian public will be unable to have the opportunity to enjoy viewing “Miao Miao”.
However, there are two Taiwan short films, namely “Joyce Agape” and “The Pursuit of What Was”, that will still be participating in the Melbourne International Film Festival.
The TECO will continue to give their full support to the Melbourne International Film Festival, and hopes to introduce more Taiwan films to this event in the future.
A Hong Kong distributor withdrew a Taiwanese film as part of the PRC's classy boycott of a film festival, is what happened. The TECO announcement says it is wrong to boycott a film festival. Hard to imagine they turned around and boycotted it after saying that.
UPDATE: TECO sent this around to people it had invited to screen the film:
We regret to inform that the film "Miao Miao" has been forced to cancel on 29 July at 12:30 pm for the complaint from China. As China claims that part of the fund of the film "Miao Miao" was from Hongkong P/L, so it could not join the Melbourne film festival as a Taiwanese film.Nope. Doesn't look like AFP got that right. Those of you who support the "one country, two systems" hogwash might want to examine the role of Hong Kong in all this. Is that really what you want for Taiwan?
We apologize for any of the inconvience it causes and thank you for your support in this matter.
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