China is obviously an atypical country. America’s Academy Awards, which are considered the film world’s highest honor, reaffirmed this.
At these awards, “Nomadland,” which poetically depicts the lives of those who live in cars, was crowned with best picture, best director and best actress. The director, Chloe Zhao, is Chinese, and she is the first non-white woman to win the award for best director.
But this triumph was not reported in Zhao’s motherland. It cannot even be searched online. Restrictions on freedom of the press and speech this blatant are unusual.
Zhao, a Beijinger, went to high school in Britain and studied film in college and graduate school in America. In February, Chinese media applauded Zhao when she won America’s Golden Globe Award for best director, but afterward her statement to foreign media in 2013 that China is “a place where there are lies everywhere” was seen as a problem.
Although “Nomadland” had been scheduled for an April 23 release in China, it has not been screened. When you search for its Chinese title online, the message “This cannot be displayed due to related laws, regulations or policies” appears, and posts cannot be viewed.
Meanwhile, Taiwanese newspapers carried pictures of Zhao holding the Oscar with headlines like “First [Time for an] Asian Woman” and “Unprecedented.”
The documentary “Do Not Split,” about the large-scale demonstrations in Hong Kong, was nominated for this year’s Academy Awards, but for the first time in around 50 years, the awards ceremony was not broadcast in Hong Kong.
Inconvenient things are kept from their own people’s eyes. It is the same with foreign news about human rights violations against the Uighurs.
For many years, pictures of Winnie the Pooh and his Chinese name have been the targets of surveillance due to mockery of President Xi Jinping for resembling him.
Yuzuru Hanyu, the Olympic gold medalist figure skater, is famous for liking Pooh, and big stuffed animals are placed at his “kiss and cry.”* They’ve become a must-have for his fans around the world.
The Winter Olympics will begin in Beijing next February. Will the Chinese authorities allow Hanyu and his fans to bring Pooh? This may become the new yardstick by which to measure the degree of freedom in China.
*Translator’s note: This is the area by the skating rink where skaters await their results.