The mayor of the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung has approved the screening of a controversial documentary at an upcoming city film festival, despite pressure from China to cancel the film.
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu decided the film would screen as originally planned, but will now show before the festival in an attempt to mitigate the controversy.
The mainland government denounced the decision, claiming the film distorts the truth and sends the wrong message about terrorism.
The documentary, called The 10 Conditions of Love, is about Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer. Kadeer is president of the World Uighur Congress, a network of ethnic Uighur groups in China's northwestern Xinjiang Autonomous Region, and throughout the world.
Xinjiang is home to a large Uigher population. In July, ethnic violence erupted there, killing about 200 people. Chinese authorities accuse Kadeer of orchestrating the violence. She has denied the charge.
Chinese authorities remain unhappy about a recent visit to Taiwan by the Dalai Lama. Beijing sees the Tibetan spiritual leader as a separatist.
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu invited the Dalai Lama to pray for victims of Typhoon Morakot. The storm, which struck in early August, is blamed for the deaths of more than 770 people.
Since the Dalai Lama's visit, authorities in Beijing have instructed several state-run travel agencies not to send Chinese tourists to Kaohsiung. Some Taiwan-based travel agencies have complained of a decline in hotel bookings, and asked for the controversial film to be dropped from the festival
But Kaohsiung Film Festival Programmer Huang Hao-chieh says the travel agency groups are overly concerned about the Chinese reaction.
The hotels and tourist unions claim that the drop off in hotel bookings is the result of cancellations from China, he says. I think it is more related to Typhoon Morakot and the scare over the H1N1 virus, not the controversy over this film.
Earlier this year, Chinese embassy staff in Australia tried unsuccessfully to have same documentary removed from the country's biggest film festival in Melbourne. The attempt backfired when Australian authorities refused the request, saying they did not see any relationship between the film and the promotion of terrorism.