Chloé Zhao’s historic Oscar win should have been met with jubilation in China, the country of her birth. On Sunday night, she became the first Chinese and woman of color to be named best director, for “Nomadland,” which also took home the prize for best picture.
Instead, the Chinese government imposed a virtual news blackout, and censors moved to tamp down or scrub out discussion of the award on social media.
Chinese state-run news media outlets — which are typically eager to celebrate recognition of its citizens on the global stage — made nearly no mention of the Oscars, let alone Ms. Zhao. Chinese social media platforms raced to delete or limit the circulation of articles and posts about the ceremony and Ms. Zhao, forcing many internet users and fans to use homonyms and wordplay to evade the censors.
No reason has been given for the suppression, though Ms. Zhao has recently been the target of a nationalist backlash over remarks she had made about China in the past.
recent escalation in tensions between the United States and China.
“People should be celebrating — both Americans for giving her credit as a film director, and Chinese, for the fact that one of their own won a very prestigious international award,” Ms. Hung said. “But the politics of the U.S.-China relationship seem to have filtered down to the cultural and art circles, which is a shame.”
By midafternoon on Monday, The Global Times, a Communist Party-owned newspaper, broke the silence to urge Ms. Zhao to play a “mediating role” between China and the United States and “avoid being a friction point.”
“We hope she can become more and more mature,” the paper wrote in an editorial that was published only in English.
Although some posts about Ms. Zhao’s success made it through the filters, for the most part, the censors made it clear that the topic was off limits. Searches on Weibo, a popular social media platform, for the hashtag “Chloé Zhao wins the Oscar for best director” returned only the message: “According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, the page is not found.”
sensitive portrait of the lives of itinerant Americans, had been scheduled for release in China last week, as of Monday, there were no screenings in theaters.
The Oscars also came under fire last month for the nomination of “Do Not Split,” a film about the antigovernment protests in Hong Kong in 2019, for best short documentary. The Global Times said then that the documentary “lacks artistry and is full of biased political stances.”