China Mutes, Even Censors Reaction to Chloe Zhao Win

State-run media outlets didn't cover Oscars and few mentions turn up on Weibo
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2021 2:36 PM CDT

(Newser) – Chloe Zhao made history Sunday night and people are talking about it on social media everywhere—except in China, where those who are doing so are doing it in code, NBC News reports. Users posting about Zhao’s Oscar wins—she's the first Chinese woman to win best director, and her movie Nomadland won best picture—on Chinese social media giant Weibo evaded censors by referring to her as "that girl" or "daughter of the clouds." Nomadland, whose Chinese translation equates to "unreliable land," was referred to with a twist as "reliable sky." Chinese media would normally be celebrating this kind of recognition, but instead, there is little mention in state-run news outlets, and the government is apparently scrubbing chatter on social media, too, the New York Times reports.

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Searches on Weibo for posts about Zhao's Oscar win yielded the message, "According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, the page is not found." Hung Huang, a writer in Beijing, said the blackout is the fault of worsening US-China relations filtering "down to the cultural and art circles, which is a shame." The absence of coverage could be due in part to critical remarks Zhao made in 2013 when she called China a place "where there are lies everywhere." Another film, Do Not Split, about protests in Hong Kong, was nominated for best short documentary. The Chinese nationalist paper Global Times criticized that film as "full of biased political stances." Shortly thereafter, after news broke that the Oscars would not be broadcast in China, and state-run news outlets were told not to cover the Oscars weeks ago, sources tell the Times. (Read more Oscars stories.)

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