TAIPEI Taiwan's biggest ever box office hit, a love story involving former colonial power Japan, has been held up in China, possibly over its historical slant, the island's government and newspapers said on Tuesday.
But China, which claims Taiwan as a renegade breakaway province and often censors films that do not follow the government line, denied there had been any delay.
Chinese authorities gave a surprise November go-ahead for an uncut version of "Cape No. 7" for its huge cinema audiences, director Wei Te-sheng said in October.
But on November 19, a day before the film was set to screen, a distributor in China notified its Taiwan counterpart that the film would be delayed indefinitely, said You Chen-kuo, a section chief in the Taiwan Government Information Office's film division.
"They wrote that they needed to make adjustments for some problems so the film would be put off," he said.
China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television denied the release had been delayed while an official from the film's China distributor said it was still preparing for a release. The movie is already widely available in China on pirated DVDs.
The film follows two Taiwan people who fall in love with Japanese, one of whom was involved in Taiwan's colonization between 1895 and 1945. Their stories reflect the tight bonds, both then and now, between Taiwan and Japan.
China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong's Communists won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek's KMT fled to the island. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.
The film's slant is the problem, Taiwan's United Daily News reported. China's top negotiator on Taiwan affairs, it said, had told other officials in Beijing that the film covers the "shadow" of Japanese imperialism.
China-Taiwan ties have improved since May, when a new president on the island jump-started two-way dialogue.
"Cape No. 7" opened in Taiwan in August on a budget of just T$50 million ($1.5 million). It is Taiwan's official submission for the foreign-language Oscar.
(Reporting by Ralph Jennings, additional reporting by the Beijing newsroom; Editing by Nick Macfie and Miral Fahmy)