Just three months into debut and K-pop group Twice under JYP Entertainment has already made headlines in China – but for less desirable reasons.

The multi-national nonet were recently invited to perform on BTV, a broadcast channel in Beijing. During the show, member Tzuyu held the Taiwanese flag and introduced her birth country as Taiwan, and when the hosts added that it should be China-Taiwan, the 16-year-old didn’t acknowledge it.

The controversy started after singer Huang An recounted the event to his Weibo followers, which caused Chinese netizens to start flaming the girl group member for being a Taiwanese independence movement supporter. BTV then issued a statement to say that the girl group’s performance has been cut from the programme, and they have also changed the poster to exclude the band.

Twice’s performances on other Chinese channels have also been cancelled, and their commercial deal with LG + Huawei has been terminated.

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An Hui TV, the broadcast company for Spring Festival Gala where Twice was due to make an appearance, appointed an agent and gave JYP Entertainment three choices after the controversy exploded: to send another JYPE group; to send Twice sans Tzuyu, or to refund the payment made to the company.

A JYP Entertainment employee then replied and said they couldn’t respond to the issue, because issuing a refund would mean they were accepting blame for something they were not responsible for.

After the agent posted the exchange on his Weibo account, it caused an uproar among Chinese internet users because they saw it as the Korean company’s acceptance of Taiwan being a separate entity from China. Moreover, they found out that Tzuyu’s birth country was listed as “Taiwan” on her profile on their official website.

Weibo users are now calling on Chinese fans to boycott JYP because by listing the member’s hometown as “Taiwan”, they are effectively recognising Taiwan as a separate country from China – an ongoing debate that has shrouded the two nations for many decades.

The controversy trended on Weibo two days shy of the presidential election in Taiwan.

Image: TPG/Click Photos