A Chinese internet celebrity has raised a ruckus online after walking down the red carpet at Cannes last week in a glossy dress modeled after the Chinese national flag.
Initially, Xu Dabao, a popular web host with more than 300,000 followers on Weibo, claimed that she was wearing the dress to “show the world that I am Chinese and that I’m proud of my country.” She later posted a collection of photos of herself in the dress onto her Weibo page with the caption: “I come from China. I love China.”
However, many commenters accused Xu of simply using the national flag to grow her own fame, trying to become the next Fan Bingbing, who is serving on the festival’s jury this year after spending years attracting attention on the red carpet with her sparkly dresses.
“I hate this kind of fake patriotism. You don’t love your country, you just love yourself!” wrote one web user. Meanwhile, other netizens accused Xu of breaking the law regarding the proper use of China’s national flag, hoping that she would be “locked up” for her crime against her country.
Responding to the backlash, Xu tried to clarify her fashion choice, claiming that since her dress was made from silk and included “Chinese elements” it was actually worn in support of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, while also apologizing if she had done anything to disrespect China or the national flag.
The online controversy has provoked an editorial from China’s nationalistic tabloid, the Global Times, which calls Xu out on her bullshit. “Showcasing Chinese elements is welcomed but ‘supporting the Belt and Road initiative’ smacks of opportunism,” the editorial reads. “Being patriotic is always laudable, including by those working in show biz. But there’s a line between loving one’s country and promoting oneself under the guise of patriotism.”
Meanwhile, the piece also points out that perhaps Cannes is not the best venue for presenting Chinese patriotism. This year, the 11-day international film festival is showing just one Chinese movie, slightly more than last year when it showed none. “For Chinese participants, there’s actually not much to feel proud of at Cannes,” the editorial notes.
The Global Times also warns of a rising wave of opportunistic patriotism among social media celebs in China, who attempt to stir up nationalistic sentiments to win fame and fortune, something that the often outrageous state tabloid apparently is not a fan of:
Patriotism is a lofty attachment to our homeland. In the current narrative, people are advised to be rational in expressing their love for the country. It’s actually quite simple: We should always hold high national symbols such as the flag and national anthem. Exploitation of such for commercial purpose should be off-limits.
In this sense, the heated discussion surrounding this recent controversy is healthy and meaningful. It helps raise awareness of expressing patriotism in a proper way. Pursuing one’s 15 minutes fame is really up to an individual. But one must be extremely careful using patriotism and political statements to do so.
At a very early age, Chinese children are taught to love their country, their flag and their anthem. Today on Weibo a video has gone viral showing schoolkids stopping in their tracks when the “March of the Volunteers” begins to play:
[Images via Weibo]
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