A British man who made the news last year after getting “Taiwan” tattooed on his forehead on a drunken night out has claimed he was beaten up by a group of Chinese people in Cambodia.

Paul Ferrell, a British expat, runs a bar with his Taiwanese wife in the city of Kaohsiung. He speaks Mandarin and is said to be a supporter of Taiwan independence. He made local and international news last October when he woke up after a night of heavy drinking with the Chinese characters for “Taiwan” tattooed on his forehead and the green Taiwan flag – seen as a symbol for independence – tattooed on his chin. He was also arrested for drunk driving that night.

Paul Farrell.
Paul Ferrell. File

According to Taiwan News, Ferrell was assaulted while on vacation in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. On Saturday evening, he attracted the attention of a group of Chinese men who noticed his tattoo at a bar. Ferrell told the English-language news outlet that one of the men shouted “Taiwan, China,” and he yelled back “Taiwan, Taiwan” in response.

He said the men “grabbed poles” and began attacking him, demanding that he say that Taiwan is part of China. He eventually said “OK, you think Taiwan is China I’ll say Taiwan is China, I just want to leave.”

Ferrell said in a Facebook post that he will not take his hat off in the future and that he was getting the tattoo – which he called a “stupid drunken mistake” – removed. He already underwent four laser removals for the flag tattoo on his chin, he added.

taiwan independence flag
The Taiwan independence flag. Photo: Wikipedia.

He also urged Taiwanese people to “be careful abroad” and “stay safe,” adding that, aside from the group of men who beat him up, he met some nice Chinese people in Cambodia.

In photos posted by Taiwan News, Ferrell has a bloody mouth and swollen lips. He said that he lost two teeth and has multiple bruises on his body.

China does not recognise Taiwan as a country and has long pressured the international community over its status and the use of the Republic of China flag. Beijing maintains that the island-nation is a renegade province of China.

Ferrell has not responded to HKFP’s request for comment.

Karen cheung hong kong

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.