China's State Media Play Down Oscar Wins For Beijing-Born Chloe Zhao

2021-04-26
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China's State Media Play Down Oscar Wins For Beijing-Born Chloe Zhao Chinese-born director/producer Chloe Zhao, winner of the award for picture and director for "Nomadland," poses in the press room at the Oscars, April 25, 2021,
AFP

Official Chinese media on Monday lashed out at Chinese-born director Chloe Zhao after she landed an Oscar for best director for her movie Nomadland, while government censors deleted references to her win from social media.

Nomadland scooped Oscars in the best director, best picture and best actress categories at the 93rd Academy Awards on Sunday.

But there was none of the fanfare that had been visible behind the Great Firewall after the film won a Golden Globe in February.

According to a commentary in the Global Times, which has close ties to ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece the People's Daily"people learned of her previous interview in which she made inappropriate remarks on China. Opinions about her changed."

The paper blamed a chill in the bilateral relationship between Beijing and Washington, which it said was "squeezing the room for cultural exchanges between peoples from the two countries."

It then dismissed Nomadland, a movie about van-dwellers, as "typically American and far from the real life of the Chinese people."

The editorial also appeared to call on Zhao to toe the party line and become a more active advocate for the CCP overseas.

"We hope she can become more and more mature," it said. "In an era when the China-U.S. confrontation is intensifying, she can play a mediating role in the two societies and avoid being a friction point."

"She cannot escape her special label, and she should actively use it," the paper said.

'Lies everywhere' remark stings

In a news story on the Oscars, the Global Times quoted some compliments for Zhao's work, but dismissed her achievement as the first woman of color to win best director as "political correctness."

It said Zhao is now in bad odor in China because of remarks she made during an interview with Filmmaker magazine in 2013.

Zhao reportedly told the magazine that China is "a place where there are lies everywhere."

The quote was later deleted from the interview, the paper added.

Meanwhile, searches on the social media platform Weibo on Monday showed nothing more recent containing the keywords for Zhao's Chinese name, Zhao Ting, than April 12.

Receiving her award for best director on Sunday, Zhao thanked "all the people we met on the road... for teaching us the power of resilience and hope, and for reminding us what true kindness looks like."

"It's pretty fabulous to be a woman in 2021," Zhao told journalists as a virtual backstage Q&A, adding: "If this win means more people get to live their dreams, I'm extremely grateful."

She quoted the Three Character Classic Chinese text, where it comments that humans are born with inherent goodness.

While the Global Times said it agreed with her, it made no mention of the second line, which contains a character that could be read as referencing CCP general secretary Xi Jinping, giving the potential meaning that it would be better to keep him at a distance, social media users said on Monday.

Reported by Lu Xi for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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