On a day when Communist Party of China (CPC) chief Xi Jinping called for boosting ties with independent Taiwan which Beijing claims as part of its territory, China was left with mixed feelings about Taiwanese director Ang Lee’s Oscar win.
Most reactions praised Ang’s win but many raised questions about “Mainland China’s” inability to win an Oscar.
Though China claims Taiwan as its integral part, its cross-Straits neighbour with its capital at Taipei maintains the status of a separate, independent country run by a democratically elected government.
In China, Ang’s triumph was naturally hailed as a victory for a director with “Chinese roots” and splashed all over the state-run media; it’s a different matter that Ang in his speech specifically thanked Taiwan.
Ang’s day of victory coincided with the meeting in Beijing between Xi and Lien Chan, the honorary chairman of the Taiwanese political party, Kuomintang (KMT); CPC and the KMT are historical adversaries and the latter's leaders took control of Taiwan after losing a civil war to the Communists in the 1940s.
According to state media, Xi told Lien that the CPC will continue to promote peaceful development of cross-Straits relationship.
Ang actually has done his cinematic bit for mending relationship between China and Taiwan; his Life of Pi was a huge hit across China and even generated a buzz about Indian culture among the Chinese.
Beijing’s censorship laws were one reason because of the state of domestic movies and why the “Mainland” has failed to win an Oscar, some said.
“Hao Jie, a young director whose 2010 film Single Man won the Special Jury Prize in the Tokyo Filmex Festival and numerous plaudits from critics but was never screened in the mainland for its depiction of complex sex lives in a village, sounded off on his frustrations,” state-run Global Times newspaper reported Tuesday.
“Due to the censorship, we are restrained from the beginning of our production, which forbids our works from mirroring genuine realities," Hao told the newspaper.
China is the world's second-largest movie market, with moviegoers spending 17 billion Yuan ($2.7 billion) on tickets last year.
Chinese film critics poured praise over Ang’s work. His second Oscar as director “cemented his stature as the most celebrated Chinese-speaking filmmakers,” wrote China Daily’s Raymond Zhou.
His works are the “quintessential personification of the glory of Chinese culture – Chinese culture at its most cordial and sophisticated, in the tradition of the scholar artist. That sets him apart from peddlers of Chinese exotica,” Raymond said.