Chloé Zhao made history on Monday by becoming the first Asian woman to win an Oscar for best director for her film Nomadland. But in China, Zhao’s country of birth, posts about his victory were removed and Weibo searches for his Chinese name returned results about a low-level official who had volunteered to promote a local Covid vaccination campaign. -19.
Zhao’s film also won the best picture award and Frances McDormand won the best actress award for her lead role. But the success was not enough to end the internal silencing of Zhao-related news that began last month in response to an old interview in which she was accused of “defaming China.” Within hours of his Oscar win, social media posts were being censored.
The 2021 ceremony was not broadcast in China, but many people watched the 39-year-old Zhao’s acceptance speech through clips shared on social media, adding congratulatory comments.
“She is the pride of the Chinese and even of all Asians,” said a commenter on Weibo.
“The four words of: Oscar, Chinese, woman and director, finally connect at this moment, forming a very proud phrase,” said another.
Posts about her victory as a director stayed live for at least an hour, but within minutes of winning the best picture, they began to disappear, including one from the US consulate in Guangzhou, and users began to complain about it. that their messages were erased.
A hashtag related to Zhao’s victory was soon replaced by the words: “according to relevant laws, regulations and policies, the page is not found.”
Reuters reported that an attempt by Zhao’s alma mater in Shanghai to broadcast the ceremony live was blocked, with the host’s VPN inaccessible for two hours.
The news was also not immediately reported by Chinese state media, with few mentions outside of a tweet from the English-language tabloid, Global Times. Twitter is blocked in China.
Zhao, who was born in China and lived in Beijing until she was 14, accepted the award for best director saying she had been “thinking a lot lately about how I move on when the going gets tough.” He recalled playing a game with his father, memorizing classical Chinese poems. He recited a line from the three-character classic, “人 之初 ， 性 本 善,” and translated it into English: “People at birth are inherently good.”
“I still really believe them today,” Zhou said. “Although it sometimes seems the opposite is true, I have always found goodness in the people I met in all the places in the world that I went.”
Zhou’s message and his decision to speak Mandarin during his speech were well received, particularly amid high rates of anti-Asian racism in the West.
The apparent censorship of the news about Zhao’s Oscar victory followed a nationalist furor against her last month. In March, Zhao was widely praised after becoming the first Asian woman in history to win a Golden Globe for best director. But within days she became the target of intense online trolling that included accusations of “defaming China” after an eight-year-old interview resurfaced in which she described being a teenager in China as “a place where there are lies everywhere. ” Promotional material and references to the film were removed from the Internet and there were calls for a boycott.
Nomadland’s show times were removed from major ticketing websites, raising fears about the imminent release in China of Zhao’s upcoming Marvel movie.
While some Oscar commentators still complained about his 2013 comments, others lamented that trolling had overshadowed his accomplishments. One commenter asked, “Did Zhao… ever say that he didn’t love China? I also believe that there are many lies in China, and the ruling party has much to criticize and improve. “
For the first time in 50 years, the Oscar ceremony was also not broadcast in Hong Kong, which is under increasing control by Beijing. Do Not Split, a nominated documentary about the Hong Kong protests, altered the sensibilities of the authorities.
Neither the Chinese authorities nor the Academy Awards said the broadcast ban was due to the documentary or Nomadland, and Hong Kong’s top broadcaster said the decision not to broadcast it this year was for “commercial reasons.”
Don’t split director Anders Hammer told CNN His team was not surprised that Beijing reacted to his film, “but we did not know that it would be in this form of censorship that affects all the Oscars.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism