Chloe Zhao’s Historic Oscars win meets Chinese Censorship

Chloe Zhao makes history as the first female Oscar winner for Best Director, gaining both praise and Chinese censorship.

This decision to erase Zhao’s Oscar win across China comes from a comment she made in a 2013 interview with ‘Filmmaker’ magazine that China was a “place where there are lies everywhere.”

Though the comment was promptly removed from the interview it was too late, and Zhao’s comments had already drawn backlash from the Chinese Government. So, before her big win this year, the Government had also hidden social media posts and publicity promoting Nomadland

Image: Vanity Fair

When the news came in Monday morning, Chinese social media sites were swarmed with congratulations for Zhao. But by mid-afternoon, her win was largely erased and hard to find. Chinese search engines such as ‘Baidu’ and ‘Sogou’ only garnered search results for her previous nominations.

In fact, in the hours after her ceremony, neither China’s official masthead, ‘The People’s Daily’, or the state news service, ‘Xinhua’ produced a single report on Zhao’s groundbreaking wins.

Nomadland tells the story of a woman in her 60s who after losing everything in the Great Recession sets out west across America, living as a nomad. Chloe Zhao made history as the first Asian woman to win Best Director at the Oscars for Nomadland. The film also took home an award for Best Picture and Best Actress for Frances McDormand’s performance.

People around the world took to social media to express excitement over Zhao being the first woman of colour to win in the category.

Many see her win as a historic turning point in Asian representation and visibility in Hollywood.

This Oscar season also had Yuh- Jung Youn win best-supporting actress, the first Korean actor to ever win an Oscar. Riz Ahmed and Steven Yeun, men of Pakistani and East Asian descent, respectively, were nominated for best actor.