On Friday, August 5th, mainland Chinese actress Ning Jing shared images on her social media Weibo account. Two of those were images of her in an unusual dress with a pattern looking like iron chains at an award event. She also wore a chain-style necklace. Chinese netizens quickly shared and spread this group of photos. Many people believed that the female actress was subtly speaking out for the “chained woman.”

The “chained woman” was a horrifying incident in China early this year. A woman in Fengxian County, Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, was chained to a wall for over 20 years. During this time, she gave birth to eight children. The case of women’s alleged abuse and human trafficking has outraged the Chinese public, even making international headlines. 

In response, Chinese authorities immediately took a series of actions. First, they rushed to build a fence to seal off the woman’s village in the name of COVID measures. They intercepted and arrested those who visited the poor woman to learn more about her case. The authorities later published five official investigation reports while at the same time prohibiting official media from posting any alternatives. Beijing also turned the censorship engine to its maximum degree, blocking all accounts and comments involving Chained Woman that differed from the press release.

In the case of Chinese actress Ning Jing, netizens have been excitingly discussing this dress. One set of opinions is that Ning Jing’s outfit will indeed remind everyone of the “Chained Woman.” When this case settles down, the iron chain dress will objectively give people a subtle reminder.

Another view is that many netizens are over-associating. They don’t need to “put too many elements of politics and justice” on the actors these days.

Later, some Weibo users created topics with the hashtag #Actor Ning Jing speaks for Xuzhou Iron Chained Woman. However, the topic was quickly censored.

Many analysts consider the Chained Woman the first black swan incident that Beijing has encountered this year. As a result, Chinese and international public opinion paid more attention to this event than the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, which it used to promote its achievements after spending years and tens of billions of dollars.

Wechat user Maijie Xun questioned whether the dress choice was just a coincidence or was deliberate. Xun reasoned that the team behind Ning Jing is the top in China, and they will be sure to know the Chained Woman case and its degree of political sensitivity. Besides, many brokerage companies normally kowtow to Beijing. Therefore, they would not let their artists freely discuss social hotspot topics, as it could bring them a lot of trouble.

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