Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland” Oscars censorship sparks anger, disbelief in China

Internet users in China are expressing a mixture of anger and disbelief as the country’s largest social media platform carries out system-wide censorship of Oscar winner Chloé Zhao and her multiple-award-winning film Nomadland.

Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter, appears to be deleting related posts within minutes as congratulatory messages flood in for Beijing-born Zhao, following the movie’s success at the 93rd Academy Awards on Sunday night, according to Newsweek.

Weibo users following developments on Monday morning local time are turning to numbers, symbols and emojis to disguise their mentions of Nomadland, which is known as “Wuyizhidi” in mainland China.

“Wu1zhidi” is one of the alternatives appearing on the website’s timeline. The number 1, pronounced “yi” in Mandarin, seems to be temporarily evading internet censors when posts do not generate much engagement.

Hashtags about Nomadland and related phrases from the Oscars remain censored, with searches returning no results despite what appears to be some excitement about Zhao’s win. She became the first woman of colour and only the second woman ever to land Best Director.

Her 2020 road movie also won Best Picture, while Frances McDormand landed Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Zhao, who now resides in the United States, accepted her award by quoting part of a Chinese poem: “People at birth are inherently good.”

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