Yue Wang is a literary translator and a part-time screen writer. Her script None Of Your Business was made into a film in 2014 and got a Best Brand Film Award at the China Golden Osmanthus Film Festival the same year. The next year, the film got nominated as the best original story at The 6th Europe China Image Film Festival hosted in London. If the idea of watching one minute of advertisement is not too daunting, the film can be watched here.
In 2018, Yue Wang took a year off to study sociology at City, University of London, which gave her a different perspective on storytelling and character building. After graduation she continued studying creative writing at the same university for another two years. She is currently working on a tragic novel.
Thirty years of tension and propaganda between China and Taiwan play out in a three-act, ten-minute play.
The Golden Gate Bombing
The following is a 10-min stage play inspired by class discussions.
Versatile: Male, 40, Historian/TV Presenter/Journalist (switching between different roles)
Chinese Propagandist: Female, 30 (Act One), 40 (Act Two), 50 (Act Three)
Taiwan Propagandist: Female, 30 (Act One), 40 (Act Two), 50 (Act Three)
Chinese Soldier A, B, and C
Taiwan Soldier A, B, and C
Back Screen: Back screen is a cartoon map of two parallel curvy coastlines, about 3 meters apart. Left to the left-hand coastline is in red color with black words FUJIAN PROVINCE, CHINA and a Hammer&Sickle flag. Right to the right-hand coastline is in cream color with black words GOLDENGATE TOWN, TAIWAN and a Chinese Nationalist Party flag. The space between the two coastlines is in blue color representing the sea. The sea stretches down toward the stage floor, forming a blue strip about three meters wide in the middle of the stage.
Left Stage: To the very left end of the stage stands a three meters high one meter wide gray cardboard mountain with red words: Taiwan Must be Liberated by the Chinese People! A big cannon is pointing at the Right Stage with three Chinese Soldiers standing by it. A table with an old style microphone and amplifier. A Chinese Propagandist sits by the table facing the Right Stage. A wooden pole stands next to the table with a loudspeaker on top.
Right Stage: To the very right end of the stage stands a three meters high one meter wide gray cardboard mountain with white words: The Three Principles: Nationalism, Democracy and Better livelihood, are the only things that can save China. A big cannon is pointing at the Left Stage with three Taiwan Soldiers standing by it. A table with an old style microphone and amplifier. A Taiwan Propagandist sits by the table facing the Left Stage. A wooden pole stands next to the table with a loudspeaker on top.
Middle Stage: Middle stage is the sea and Versatile stands in the sea.
Stage in dark. A single shaft of light falls on Versatile who is now dressed as a historian with a pair of glasses and a book in hand.
Versatile: (reads the book while pacing about slowly) Our story happened in the last century when the Chinese Nationalist Party, who had governed China for 30 years, was defeated by the rising Communist Party in civil war. They escaped to a small island called Taiwan, (looks up to the right) Ah, looks like this is their military front.
Spotlight falls on the Left Stage, Taiwan Propagandist and three soldiers remain stationary, and spotlight falls back onto Versatile.
Versatile: (continues reading) The rebel Communist Party established a new republic on the mainland while the old regime continued existing on the Taiwan Island. Since then, China split into two countries, both claiming to be the real legitimate China. (looks up to the left) So, these must be our commie friends on the mainland.
Spotlight falls on the Left Stage, Chinese Propagandist and three soldiers remain stationary.
Full lights on, and the back screen assumes the cartoon map with big words 1970s.
Versatile: (keeps reading) There is only a narrow strait between the two countries. At the closest point, the sea is only two miles wide. (He looks up to the left and right as if he’s measuring the distance) If you shout with a loudspeaker, the other side can hear you. (continues reading) Since the establishment of the People’s Republic, they’ve been bombing each other for 20 years. ( raises his wrist to look at his watch) Oh no! It’s bombing time now!
Versatile hastily throw away the book, covers his ears, and squats down.
Six soldiers from both side simultaneously start moving: Soldier A directs; Soldier B takes aim; Soldier C loads cannonballs.
Chinese Soldier A: Fire!
Taiwan Soldier A: Fire!
Cannons thunder through the stage. On the back screen, densely overlapped spots of black smoke and red flame appear along the seashore of both sides.
The sound lasts for a few seconds, gradually lowers down, and then disappears.
Versatile stands up from squatting position, looks to the left and then the right. After making sure that he’s safe now, he resumes composure and starts explaining again.
Versatile: This famous half-century-long battle later on became known as the GoldenGate Bombing. Famous, for it’s not just a battleground of bombs, it’s also a battleground of ideology. Look!
Chinese Propagandist starts moving. She takes her microphone and shouts at Taiwan.
Chinese Propagandist: Soldiers in Taiwan! Have you got a taste of our bombs? The determination of the Chinese people to liberate Taiwan will not change. Come back! Quit fighting for that old tottering regime. It’s still not too late to come back and embrace our People’s Republic!
Taiwan Propagandist starts moving too. She shouts back toward China.
Taiwan Propagandist: Soldiers on the mainland! Your bombs will not scare us. Our front is as strong as iron. It is YOU who should do some serious thinking. Under communist dictatorship, how many families had been broken up? How many innocent people died in red terror? Your People’s Republic is a lie!
Chinese Propagandist: (Shouts back) Whoever died in our great proletarian cultural revolution were not innocent people! They were capitalist dogs and oppressors! The People’s Republic is for the working people! Our republic is new! The days of your government are numbered!
Taiwan Propagandist: Our government has taken drastic measures to reform. The modern day Taiwan is becoming a democracy. Soldiers on the mainland! Don’t you want freedom? Come to our side!
Chinese Propagandist: So called freedom funded by your American paymasters?
Taiwan Propagandist: You Soviet pigs!
Chinese Propagandist: You Capitalist bitch!
Taiwan Propagandist: Commie Cunt!
Six soldiers from both sides have been visibly working themselves up to infuriation. Soldier A from both sides gives order loudly.
Chinese Soldier A: Fire!
Taiwan Soldier A: Fire!
Soldier B and Soldier C from both sides start to load cannonballs.
Versatile: Here we go again. I’d better find somewhere safe.
Versatile covers his ears and squats down again.
Sound of explosions roars over the stage, and dense spots of smoke and flame appear on the back screen again.
The bombing sound lasts a few seconds and dies down, while the lights grow dim and the stage falls back in dark.
Stage in dark, only a shining word 1980s visible on the back screen.
Intermittent and sparse bombing sound can be heard, but much weaker compared to that of Act One. Sound gradually tapers off as the stage light turns on.
Soldiers on both sides are the same, but both Propagandists look much older than in Act One.
Versatile stands up from squatting position, looks left and right with a confused face.
Versatile: What is this? Such loud thunder with only a few drops of rain? Ah I see, they have changed the strategies. The supreme art of war, said the old book, is to attack the mind.
Taiwan Propagandist starts to shout toward China.
Taiwan Propagandist: Brothers on the Mainland! It’s such a long day for you. How about relax a little bit and enjoy some music.
Taiwan Propagandist hits a button. A very sweet and soft love song comes out from the loudspeaker.
Song: She is only seventeen… Oh… She is only seventeen… Oh, baby…
Across the sea, three Chinese soldiers appear to have forgotten themselves in music. They slightly bob their head and tap their feet to the rhythm, utterly forgetting that they are on a battleground.
Chinese Propagandist gets anxious and angry. She grabs the telephone on the table and reports to her superior.
Chinese Propagandist: Chief, They are playing those mushy bourgeois songs, completely sapped our soldiers’ morale! What should we do?
Chief: (voice over) Play our classic song HOMESICKNESS at full volume, drown them out!
Chinese Propagandist hits a button, HOMESICKNESS starts to play, drowning out the love song.
Taiwan soldiers gaze across the sea with nostalgic expression.
Song: All alone in a foreign town. All alone in a foreign town. Memory tortures me day and night. Whose face I saw in dream last night…..
Taiwan Soldier A brings three bowls of rice wine to Soldier B and C.
Taiwan Soldier A: To our sweet home.
Taiwan Soldier B: I miss my mom.
Taiwan Soldier C: To our home.
Taiwan soldiers drink wine.
Taiwan Propagandist gets anxious and angry. She fumbles at the buttons in an effort to get a piece of news to be broadcast, but she hits the wrong button, and what comes out from the loudspeaker is a poem written by a Taiwan Poet Yu Youzen.
She falls in a panic and blindly hits buttons to stop the poem as it starts:
Poem: When I die, when I die, bury me on top of the mountain facing my hometown. But hometown is out of sight, behind this strait of regret. When I die, when I die, bury me on top of the mountain facing the mainland. But the mainland is out of sight, never will I forget!
Taiwan Propagandist finally hits the right button and manages to stop the poem, but the Chinese side starts attacking again.
Chinese Propagandist: Brothers in Taiwan! Do you hear the singing of a cricket at night? It is that same old cricket which had lived in the corner of your childhood house. It had jumped across the Taiwan Strait and landed in your barracks to sing every night. It is singing a tune of your hometown!
Taiwan soldiers start wiping tears from their faces, to distract themselves, they start to quietly attend their own businesses.
Taiwan Soldier A is making rice wine by fermenting rice with a cardboard stove and bamboo steamer.
Taiwan Soldier B is collecting cardboard cannonball shells scattered on the stage floor and gives them to Soldier C.
Taiwan Soldier C is forging cooking knives using the steel from the cannonball shells on a miniature cardboard furnace.
Chinese Propagandist: Come back brothers! Come back! Look at how narrow this sea is! It’s so easy to swim across all you need is holding a basketball for support! Your home country forever opens her arms for you!
Versatile: Wow, this can be the most destructive psychological bombs I ever saw. (looks to the right) Let’s see how do they deal with such a situation.
Taiwan Propagandist, after some fumbling, finally manages to find a piece from a pile of newspapers. She starts reading the news loudly.
Taiwan Propagandist: (reads) Yesterday, an Air Force plane from the mainland landed at the Taiwan Airport. The pilot, who had been a sergeant before deserting the army, told Taiwan Morning News that he had got disillusioned by the oppressive Communist regime. The yearning for freedom prompted him to make the most important decision in his life. He will be rewarded ten thousand Tai-dollars by the Taiwan government and he expressed his wish to start a new life in the free world with this money. (Puts down the newspaper) Brothers on the mainland! Don’t you want to live in a democracy? The free world forever has its door open for you!
On the Chinese side, the telephone on the table starts to ring. Chinese Propagandist picks up the phone.
Chief: (Voice over, angrily) What are you waiting for? Bomb them right now!
Chinese Propagandist puts down the phone and reluctantly turns to the Chinese Soldiers.
Chinese Propagandist: The order has come again.
Three Chinese Soldiers, who had been listlessly siting about, reluctantly stand up to work around the cannon.
Chinese Propagandist takes up microphone and starts to shout toward Taiwan.
Chinese Propagandist: Brothers in Taiwan! There will be a heavy rain in ten minutes. Please remember your umbrella. Repeat! There will be a heavy rain in ten minutes.
Taiwan Soldiers, upon hearing the broadcast, reluctantly put down the job in their hands, listlessly move up to their cannon and squat behind it.
Chinese Soldiers start to fire the cannon at a lazy pace, which shoots, as if in slow motion, one cannonball after another.
On the back screen, very sparse and feeble explosive spots appear on the seashore of Taiwan, looking very weak and noneffective.
Versatile hurriedly covers his ears and squats down again, but after listening a few seconds, he stands up.
Versatile: Why do I even try to hide. This is not war. This is children playing house.
The lights grow dim and the stage falls back in dark.
Full lights on. Big Words 1990s on the back screen.
Soldiers on both sides are the same, but both Propagandists are now with gray hair. They look old and tired, still sitting at their respective tables, facing each other.
Versatile is now dressed as a TV presenter in a suit. He faces the audience and speaks to them the way in which a TV anchor presents news.
Versatile: People on both sides of the Taiwan Strait swarm the streets celebrating the final conclusion of the 1992 Consensus. From now on, postal communication is resumed, the ban to travel across is lifted, families split up for half a century can now write to each other and reunite…
He was interrupted by a Taiwan soldier calling at him from the coast.
Taiwan soldier A: Hey! Hey!
Versatile: (stops and turns to the right) Are you calling me?
Taiwan soldier A: Yes.
Versatile: What can I do for you?
Taiwan soldier A: Ask brothers on the mainland if there’s anything they want?
Versatile: (turns to the left) Hey, brothers in Taiwan asked what you want?
Chinese Soldiers: We want to have a taste of that famous GoldenGate rice wine. Maybe also bring us one or two of those GoldenGate cooking knives. Ask them if there’s anything they want?
Versatile: (turns to the right) Brothers on the mainland ask what you want?
Taiwan Soldiers: We want the stinky Tofu from Szechwan, and roasted red chili paste from Shanghai, oh, oh, and the pickled prawn paste from Fujian.
Versatile: That’s too much stuff for me to carry! How about you both come to the middle to exchange directly?
Chinese Soldiers and Taiwan Soldiers: Alright!
Six soldiers leave their respective fronts, each of them has an item in hand. They make the movement of rowing an invisible boat toward the central stage, and talk cordially to each other.
Chinese Soldier A gives a jar of stinky Tofu to Taiwan Soldier A.
Taiwan Soldier A: This is the taste of home! I’ve been dreaming of it for decades.
Taiwan Soldier B gives a cardboard cooking knife to Chinese Soldier B, who looks at it curiously and admiringly.
Chinese Soldier B: So this is the famous GoldenGate cooking knife?
Taiwan Soldier B: It’s famous because it’s made from top quality steel taken from those cannonballs you’d shot at us through all those years. Now we finally have a chance to give it back to you.
Chinese Soldier C: Wow, the famous GoldenGate rice wine! I often smelt it when the ocean winds blew our way.
Taiwan Soldier C: We usually took a bowl or two when we got homesick.
During this conversation, the six soldiers move gradually backward to the backstage and disappear.
Versatile is left standing alone in the central stage. He looks left and right at the two propagandists.
Both propagandists still sit uneasily on their seats, looking stubborn and uptight.
Versatile: The brothers who had bombed each other for decades just buried their hatchet, but the two women who had shouted at each other for decades are still too proud to break the ice. Well, I can help.
Versatile picks up from the floor a camera, a microphone and a notebook. He’s transformed into a journalist now.
Versatile walks toward the Chinese Propagandist and assumes the position in which a journalist interviews people.
Versatile: Your sacred mission has been accomplished, and the bitter enemies of yesterday are being called the dearest brothers in all the headlines of today. Can you share with us how you feel now?
Chinese Propagandist: I just feel how fast the time flies. Having shouted at her my whole life, I still don’t know what she looks like.
Versatile: Well, after all these years, she should look about the same age as you. Do you want to see her?
Chinese Propagandist: (hesitantly) Actually I do, but… but…
Versatile: Don’t worry. I can arrange it.
Versatile walks toward Taiwan Propagandist.
Versatile: The woman you’ve shouted at for 30 years just told me that she wanted to retire and be a stay-at-home grandma. Do you want to meet her before she goes?
Taiwan Propagandist: I’ve always been wondering what she looks like. If I could meet her, maybe there would be one less regret in my retired years. But I don’t know how she feels about me.
Versatile takes two steps back into the middle stage, talking to both women.
Versatile: How about this. Both of you take three steps forward and pretend this strait does not exist. Let’s see what happens.
Two women think for a moment, both stand up, arrange their hair and collar, and start walking toward each other.
Chinese Propagandist: Dear enemy, finally I get to see your face.
Taiwan Propagandist: I will miss the days when I quarreled with you.
They both smile.
Versatile: This can easily be the longest lasting quarrel in history!
Chinese Propagandist: You don’t say. Her voice as a young woman is still ringing in my ears. Look at how old we have both become.
Versatile: Don’t want to spoil this friendly atmosphere, but as a journalist I have to ask for my article, which one of you have won?
Chinese Propagandist: I won, of course, my broadcasting had persuaded so many Taiwan soldiers swimming back to the mainland with the help of just a basketball.
Taiwan Propagandist: Actually I won. My broadcasting had persuaded even some of your air force pilots to land in our capital.
Versatile: Looks like both of you had beat each other in some rounds, which just gives me the inspiration for the title of my article.
Both Propagandists: Which is?
Versatile: After all the disasters, the brotherhood has remained. A smile at meeting, the bitterness is dissolved.
As he pronounces the long title of his article, two lines of big Chinese words that are the original poem of the same meaning appear on the back screen: