Xi Jinping has officially entered his third term, and the Chinese film channel “CHINA MOVIE OFFICIAL CHANNEL” on Youtube quickly posted a special documentary titled “The era is calling us.” Furthermore, Zhang Ziyi, a famous Chinese actress, said in an interview that she “understands very well the requirements of the General Secretary (Xi Jinping), for future work, we will seriously implement the spirit of the 20th National Congress of the CCP, which is to adhere to the people-centered creative orientation…”.
In fact, before Xi Jinping’s second term (in 2017), China’s entertainment industry rarely expressed its attitude to politics. Actors and singers only go online to share about people and life, promote their creations, or advertise goods. Generally, they have little interest in politics and rarely comment on Taiwan issues.
According to Up Media, in 2014, the Chinese government required radio, television, and online platforms to ban “unscrupulous artists” from airing. What they meant by so-called “unscrupulous artists” are drug addicts, prostitutes, tax evaders, and adulterers, not people who express their attitude toward matters such as Hong Kong’s and Taiwan’s independence.
Since then, however, Chinese artists have walked on eggshells as their every move is judged by hundreds of millions of netizens on Weibo. The latter has begun using political language to criticize artists utilizing the government’s political viewpoints.
According to China Digital Times, by 2017, under the circumstances of public opinion shaped by the government, Chinese artists, one after another, have changed from being politically passive to active. At every critical moment, they have to compete to show loyalty to the party or Xi Jinping. The politicization of Weibo has spread to the film and television sectors.
Artists who have never touched politics now have to follow the correct political line and actively make political statements, especially on important party or country anniversaries. An artist posting a political statement of allegiance is not only to avoid criticism by the Chinese mainstream media but to help develop their artistic career.
Thus, China’s rising generation of young stars rides on Xi Jinping’s political storm, seemingly unconcerned with how national authoritarianism influences their thinking. Compared to the Chinese artists of the 1980s and 1990s, young artists are no longer expressive about politics.
Instead, they choose to conform to Party dogma. For example, on July 1, 2021, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, actress Yang Mi, who has 112 million followers on Weibo, took the initiative to repost “Golden Couplets” by Xi Jinping – “The people have faith, the nation has hope, the country has strength.” Likewise, when US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, state media and netizens in China looked closely at artists to see whether they would retweet “There is only one China in the world,” including Taiwanese artists developing their careers in China as well.
Zhang Ziyi said: “As a person who works in the arts, I also study and understand very well the requirements of the General Secretary. Looking back on the working process over the years, especially learning from experience while directing the movie ‘My Father and Me”‘ to appreciate the national spirit, I have been deeply educated and inspired. This also clarifies the direction of my future endeavors. In future, I will also follow the direction of the General Secretary, adhere to the people-centered creation orientation, stick to the Chinese cultural perspective, and sing with passion and enthusiasm of the times.”
Some netizens commented that what Zhang Ziyi said in an interview made her “the first person in the field of arts to show loyalty.”
China Digital Times quoted some netizens’ comments. For example, someone named “L – The Mysterious Girl” wrote: “What kind of person are you? What kind of professional actress is that?”
Another said: “The ‘International Zhang’ is great, she will be praised by the party”; “Loyalty is shown, and then what?”; “It’s truly up to the definition of ‘International Zhang'”
Currently, the interview video has been deleted by the @chinamoviereport section on Douyin.