Fans angry after Chinese K-pop stars display patriotism
Celebrities criticised for supporting China after South China Sea ruling
For Chinese stars working in the K-pop industry, it could very well be the worst time to proclaim one's hard-lined patriotism.
On Tuesday, a United Nations-backed tribunal in The Hague ruled in favour of the Philippines in a long-standing international maritime dispute.
It concluded that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to the bulk of the South China Sea.
But Chinese President Xi Jinping rejected the decision, a sentiment that was immediately echoed on social media by several high-profile Chinese K-pop celebrities.
They included Zhou Mi and Lay from boy bands Super Junior-M and EXO respectively, as well as girl group f(x)'s Victoria Song and Miss A's Fei.
Fei's ex-bandmate and fellow Chinese, Jia, also joined in.
All of them took to their Sina Weibo accounts to repost a nationalistic poster from Chinese newspaper People's Daily.
It shows a map of China and the "nine-dash line" that covers most of the South China Sea, accompanied by the caption: "This is China, not one bit less."
But Song, 29, as well as Lay, 24, and Zhou, 30, received the most backlash after they reposted the poster on Instagram.
K-pop enjoys a massive fan base in South-east Asia.
Fans from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei were enraged at the Chinese stars' overt show of patriotism. (See report on facing page.)
Vietnamese netizens, in particular, were especially vocal in their online criticism of the Chinese stars.
According to CNN, the Vietnamese government hotly disputes China's claim of sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly island chains in the South China Sea.
The country's foreign affairs ministry said it "strongly supports Tuesday's ruling".
But Chinese K-pop fans have thrown their fervent support behind the celebrities, calling them "courageous" and "China's pride".
Taiwanese celebrity couple slammed too
UNDER FIRE: Taiwanese actors Ruby Lin and Wallace Huo were criticised after they expressed support for China through the production agencies they own.PHOTO: SINA WEIBO
Angry netizens have lashed out at Taiwanese celebrity couple Ruby Lin, 40, and Wallace Huo, 36.
Production agencies Ruby Studio, owned by Lin, and Hua Jie Company, owned by Huo, took to micro-blogging platform Sina Weibo to express support for China in the South China Sea ruling by reposting a nationalistic poster.
Political relations between China and Taiwan have historically been tense.
Lin and Huo, who are tying the knot in Bali on July 31 amid rumours of Lin's pregnancy, have been active in Chinese showbiz for more than a decade.
'PANDERING TO CHINA'
Some Taiwanese fans have hit out at the pair on social media, accusing them of pandering to the lucrative Chinese market.
One urged Huo to "stay out of politics", saying: "With talent and natural charm, you don't need to go with the flow to survive. Please don't be a complete sellout."
Another wrote to Lin: "Dear Ruby, I've liked you since I was a kid and I've watched every one of your dramas... But I won't continue liking you any more. I wish you and Wallace all the best. Both of you can get married in China!"
K-pop stars get hate and support online
When Chinese K-pop idols Lay from EXO and Victoria Song from f(x) displayed support for their country on Instagram, they were verbally attacked by furious haters. But some fans jumped to their defence...
"Lay is (a) traitor. Get out (of) EXO."
"Have you learned history when you were young, Lay? You're a d***head."
"Leave EXO please... If you (are) a solo singer in your country, I will support you... But leave EXO, they must be safe."
"China has been brainwashed. The people in China don't know history's truth. The whole world knows, except China. #beyondhelp"
"Send all your hate comments to the government of China, not to a guy who loves his country. If you are patriotic, then he's patriotic himself."