When Zhao became the first Asian woman to win a Golden Globe for Best Director on February 28 of this year, there was jubilation in China. But users quickly found old interviews on the Internet that, in their opinion, contained offensive statements about China. The flattering words were replaced by indignation. Censorship was also involved, reports The Hollywood Reporter: a significant part of the advertising of the film “Land of the Nomads” in social networks was removed, as well as references to its release on the country’s screens on April 23rd.
The reproaches prompted two interviews. In December 2020, Zhao told news.com.au that the United States is now her country, which China has seen as abandoning her homeland. The American media unwittingly poured oil on the fire, in which Zhao is often called an “Asian American.” The New York Times even published an amendment at Zhao’s request: “This is a mistake, in fact she is Chinese.” And news.com.au came up with a denial: they say, in fact, Zhao said: “The United States is not my country.”
The second quote is getting worse. Nearly 10 years ago, Zhao was frank in an interview with a small New York magazine Filmmaker Magazine why she was attracted by a story about a teenager on a reservation looking for his way in life: “The roots of this story lie in my childhood in China – a place where lies are everywhere.”
The Chinese have the expression “to pick up a stone just to drop it on your foot,” writes The Hollywood Reporter. In Zhao’s case, the irony is especially bitter. China has long longed for cultural recognition from the West, and the Oscar is its quintessence. And now there is an attack in the country on a film in which there is nothing about China, but he harshly criticizes the structure of modern American society.