Online Censorship: Chloé Zhao’s and Nomadland’s Academy Awards Zapped from the Chinese Web

The New York Times reported this week that China recently tweaked its Great Firewall, systematically blocking and deleting any mention of Chloé Zhao’s win of an Academy Award, along with any mention of her movie Nomadland also winning an Oscar.

As everyone now knows, China has implemented technological measures that allow the country to control what its citizens see when looking at the Web, at search engines or social media. This allows China to sanitize the Internet, ensuring that Chinese citizens are not shown content contrary to the country’s and society’s interests as determined by the Chinese government.

According to The New York Times, Internet users who type a query about Zhao or Nomadland and Oscars in the Chinese search engine Weibo are simply shown a message that reads: “According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, the page is not found.”

The reason Chloé Zhao is thus targeted may relate to a 2013 interview during which she criticized her home country as one where lies were widely circulated.

This is another example of the perils of a country implementing any system allowing the control of information. Once a regime starts in such a direction, for example by eliminating information from enemies of the state, it’s virtually impossible not to keep going until, one day, you’re zapping news about a citizen winning the most prestigious award in cinema based on one interview she gave almost a decade earlier, in which she obliquely referred to this government’s questionable informational practices.

By the way, I saw Nomadland and encourage you to do so as well, not only for the quality of its direction but also for Frances McDormand’s performance.