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(LEAD) China denies reports that it banned JYP singers over flag row

All News 19:47 January 18, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with China's culture ministry; CHANGES headline)

BEIJING, Jan. 18 (Yonhap) -- China's culture ministry on Monday denied some South Korean media reports that it has banned singers under JYP Entertainment from performing in mainland China in the wake of a flag row involving a 16-year-old Taiwanese K-pop singer.

JYP Entertainment is the South Korean management agency for the singer, Chou Tzu-yu, who waved Taiwan's national flag on a South Korean entertainment TV program in November.

The image of Chou, who performs under the name Tzuyu as a member of South Korean girl band TWICE, sparked controversy in mainland China after China-based Taiwanese singer Huang An reportedly accused Chou of supporting Taiwanese independence.

The issue has attracted intense media attention in both Taiwan and China at a time when Tsai Ing-won of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party, which wants independence from China, has been elected as the island's first female president.

Some South Korean media reported that K-pop singers from JYP have been banned from performing in mainland China, but an official at China's culture ministry told Yonhap News Agency by telephone that, "There is no regulation that allows China's central government to ban a certain celebrity of a certain country or a certain agency from performing in China."

In an apparent fear that the issue could fan nationalistic sentiment in mainland China, JYP Entertainment apologized and suspended Chou's activities.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war. China's ruling Communist Party claims sovereignty over Taiwan, but the landslide victory of Tsai Ing-won shows that many Taiwanese people support the island's democracy.

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