Zhang Guoli Weibo Controversy (Updated)

An awkward media moment has got Weibo talking. When CCTV reported that actor and director Zhang Guoli advocated for stronger monitoring of web dramas at China’s plenary sessions, the actor posted that he had not spoken at all yet.

Actor and director Zhang Guoli (张国立) was attacked by Weibo netizens after CCTV reported he pleaded for stronger monitoring of Chinese online dramas at the ‘lianghui'(两会), China’s plenary sessions. The actor then went online to defend himself, saying: “Dear friends at CCTV, I haven’t even made a statement yet!”


Although Zhang Guoli’s comment was soon deleted or removed by Weibo’s censors, the moment was reported by other Weibo accounts, attracting the attention of Weibo’s netizens.

Global Times also reported the incident. “The media is always like this,” one netizen responds: “they report about a speech before someone has actually spoken!” Many netizens seem to think the situation is hilarious, expressing their amusement with laughing emoji’s.

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Zhang has over 570000 fans on his official Weibo account. The actor is especially known for his roles playing the Emperor in various costume dramas about imperial China.

According to Global Times, the actor exclusively stated to one of their reporters at the Lianghui that he did not make the reported statements about monitoring online dramas (see featured image).

Zhang+Guoli+Back+1942+Portrait+Session+7th+RTleCuEwhkXl Zhang Guoli, picture via Zimbio.

Although many Chinese media outlets have now published about Zhang’s denying the stricter monitoring issue, the former report that is titled “Zhang Guoli: online dramas need stricter monitoring – you cannot just put everything on the internet” is still online and republished by different Chinese media sources. The article states that Zhang “made a strong appeal to strengthen the supervision over the entire process of online soap operas.”

Update 21.30 (China Time Zone):

On Twitter, CCTV America digital producer Du Yubin tweeted to Voice of America SE Asia bureau chief Steven L Herman and What’s on Weibo, suggesting that Zhang is not speaking the truth in denying he has made the statement.

Translation: “(…) Because now all web dramas are done independently, and when they are finished they go online. It’s self-examination. But you haven’t talked about the scale – everything just goes online. And many dramas come out, it strongly reflects modern times. Now again, this has already been dealt with. I also wanted to raise this proposal, but it was already decided before. Afterwards it must be like this, which is first examine and report for approval, and then make it (..).

As the video does not show the time or context of this speech, the situation remains unclear.

On Weibo, netizens are also discussing the video, that was posted by Sina Weibo. One Weibo netizen says: “The problem is that there is a video where he backs this proposal.” Other Weibo users respond: “This clearly is about a proposal by the SARFT [State Administration of Radio, Film and Television] and not about his own proposal,” and: “It was not his proposal, and the first part of the video is audio only.” Another netizen says: “He did not delete his own post, it was deleted.”

The issue now seems to have become one of CCTV versus Global Times, where both Chinese media outlets are reporting a different story – a true media circus.

– By Manya Koetse

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