TAIPEI: A China-based Taiwanese singer who has called for reunification with the mainland drew public ire after returning to his homeland for an operation that could cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
Huang An has styled himself as a “Taiwan independence buster”, publicly criticising fellow pop stars who appear opposed to reunification with China, where he has lived for more than 15 years.
But on Thursday he returned to Taiwan on a charter flight for an eight-hour heart operation that local media estimated could cost up to Tw$800,000 ($24,240) — most of which would be covered under the island’s universal healthcare system.
“Mr Huang must not be confident in the level of healthcare where he lives,” Huang Wei-che of the Beijing-sceptic Democratic People’s Party told reporters in Taipei.
“Otherwise why would he want to come back to take advantage of Taiwan’s universal health insurance, despite his controversial arguments in China?”
The event also sparked debate on social media, where many called for the government to change the rules around who is covered by the national health insurance.
“A traitor deserves our resources? He should go back to China — a man who betrayed his country only to please China has no right to be treated using Taiwan’s medical resources,” wrote Chia Chi Chang on Apple Daily newspaper’s Facebook page.
Huang made news in January after he posted a video online of 16-year-old K-Pop singer Chou Tzu-yu waving a Taiwanese flag, stoking anger in China and accusations Chou was a pro-independence advocate.
China is a key market for Korean music and Chou was forced to apologise, but in Taiwan public anger was largely directed towards Huang.
Huang, who is also a television host and writer, moved to Beijing in the late 1990s after his star faded at home.
China and Taiwan split in 1949 after a civil war but Beijing still considers the self-ruled island part of its territory awaiting reunification — by force if necessary.
Tensions eased under president Ma Ying-jeou of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party, which had ruled the island for almost all of its modern history.
But relations cooled when the Democratic Progressive Party claimed a landslide victory in January elections, with anti-China sentiment a large part of its rise.