BEIJING: Chinese organizers canceled an invitation to a Taiwanese children's choir who performed the island's national anthem at last month's inauguration of new president Tsai Ing-wen, reports said Thursday.
The Puzangalan Choir made up of children from the native Paiwan aboriginal tribe was due to perform at a festival in southern China's Guangdong province on July 20, Taiwan's official Central News Agency said.
It quoted the choir's musical director Wu Sheng-ying as saying the Chinese organizers informed the choir one week after they appeared at the May 20 inauguration of the self-governing island's first female president.
No reason was given, although China claims Taiwan as its own territory and regularly retaliates against artists whom it sees as backing the island's independent identity, along with other overseas artists with whom it is displeased.
No contact information from the festival organizers was immediately available.
A message from the choir on its Facebook page said the invitation's cancellation had been "within our expectations," but that the group's heightened profile would help it with fundraising to make up for the loss of the appearance fee.
"We'll just take that invitation and use it as wallpaper. The kids don't really get what happened it so what does it matter?" the message said.
Such actions illustrate China's hard line over its refusal to recognize Taiwanese political institutions, but which also appear to clash with its attempts to win Taiwanese hearts and minds and curb growing pro-independence sentiment through youth and cultural exchanges.
In 2000, China canceled all concerts and commercial activities within China by Taiwanese singer Chang Hui-mei after she performed the national anthem at the inauguration of Chen Shui-bian, the first president elected from Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, of which Tsai is a member.
"Singing the national anthem at the presidential inauguration was a great honor for us, so we decided to go ahead with it, although someone had warned us of the possible consequences," Wu was quoted as saying by CNA.
The Puzangalan Choir's performance, in which they incorporated aboriginal musical elements into the anthem, had been widely praised.
They are next scheduled to appear at a choir competition in Hungary in August. CNA said Tsai has donated 500,000 Taiwanese dollars ($15,400) from her publishing royalties to help with expenses for the trip.