Cross straits tensions between China and Taiwan are developing into an international drama with a 16-year-old Korean pop (K-pop) singer drawn into the fray, highlighting political minefields facing businesses in the region.
The Taiwanese teenager, Chou Tzu-yu, who is part of a nine-member multi-national girl band TWICE based in South Korea, is being singled out for waving a Taiwanese flag in an introduction of the group on a television program in November.
The scene was widely shared online in China ahead of Taiwan's closely-watched general election with some netizens branding her a separatist.
China-Taiwan relations have been strained since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 when the Nationalist Party retreated to Taiwan after losing the Chinese Civil War. No armistice or peace treaty has ever been signed to mark the end of the conflict and the mainland views Taiwan as a renegade province that may be reclaimed by force, if necessary.
Amid the flag-waving controversy, a Chinese TV station cancelled TWICE's appearance on a program and Chou was dropped as a brand ambassador for a smartphone made by Chinese IT giant Huawei marketed in the country by LG Uplus, a mobile phone carrier that is part of the Korean conglomerate LG Group.