No doubt, you’ve seen the scary trend of cancel culture that has seemingly taken over the United States in recent years and months. With this intact, all it takes is one wrong phrase, one ill-placed word, one untasteful picture, or one-minute fact from your past and life as you know it is pretty much over. You’re now suddenly cut from sponsors, banned from social media platforms, and censored on every media outlet around.
But if you thought that was bad, just thank your lucky stars you aren’t in China.
Here, the same tiny mistakes could cost you quite literally everything. Just ask famed Chinese actress and billionaire Zhao Wei, that is if you can find her.
Zhao is undoubtedly one of the nation of 1.4 billion’s most popular and well-known citizens of the modern era. Before last week, she could be found on multiple magazine covers, media outlet articles, and billboards. She was photographed nearly everywhere and involved in all sorts of companies and business ventures.
But this week, she’s completely non-existent. And by that, I mean, it simply seems she has vanished into thin air.
According to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, Zhao’s entire internet presence has been scrubbed. In all of her “television series, films, short videos and promotional materials from platforms such as Tencent Video, iQiyi, and Youku,” her name is quite literally missing. As SCMP says, “The shows are still available with her scenes remaining intact, but any descriptions of her involvement were removed.”
And that’s not all.
On social media platforms such as Weibo, China’s form of Twitter, any hashtag, including her name, has been blocked, as has any reference to her at all.
Well, that’s not entirely true.
She has been mentioned in a few recent publications, one on Weibo and another in the state-run Global Times. It is noted that both discuss in detail a number of her business issues, presumably making her recent erasure from life seem warranted.
On Weibo, for instance, the trending topic discussed how she and her husband had been banned from Chinese securities for five years in 2017 after supposed “irregularities” were found in their takeover of a small animation business.
As the nation’s largest and most prominent propaganda mouthpiece, the Global Times naturally went into much more detail. In their recent article, they didn’t so much explain her recent non-existence but called her out on her past and some questionable decisions.
For example, they described her as being ‘known as a billionaire investor surrounded with lawsuits.” Not exactly a good look…
They went on to explain that of the 14 companies she owned, “two had canceled registrations and four were revoked of their licenses.” In addition, the article mentioned that the remaining companies were at risk of “having their shares frozen.”
Another not-so-great look, huh?
But there’s more.
They also said she was “entangled in various scandals over the years.” but instead of explaining that by talking more about the above-mentioned lawsuits or why her companies might be in danger, they spoke of her apparent lack of patriotism.
“As early as 2001, Zhao received an overload of criticism for publicly wearing a dress featuring a Japanese military flag.”
And later on, they tied her to another seemingly “unpatriotic” Chinese actor, Zhang Zhehan.
Zhang was similarly treated to extreme cancelation “after posing at Japan’s notorious Yasukuni Shrine, sparking wide outrage” a mere two weeks ago. As a result, Zhang, who worked for Zhao, “had all of his accounts and works banned on various social media platforms” and was blacklisted from any further employment in the nation.
According to a statement received by Reuters by a Chinese government-affiliated group known as the China Association of Performing Arts, Zhang’s misbehavior “severely harms national feeling and brings baneful influence to his young age-group audience. Hence, we demand members not to engage him in any employment.”
And all for standing in front of a historical monument.
Remember, this is one of China’s most famous individuals. And yet, as of Thursday, Zhao hasn’t been seen or heard from at all – and I mean, at all. If China can do this to someone this big, what in the world can they do to someone as small as you or I?