China-born Chloe Zhao made history by becoming the first person of color to win best director at the Academy Awards.

This would seem to be a huge PR victory for China. But years ago, she said China had “lies everywhere” 
Local media outlets in China were instructed to avoid live broadcasts and ordered to play down coverage of the Academy Awards.

Hong Kong’s largest TV network didn’t screen Hollywood’s big night, either — for the first time in half a century 
China's people and media weren’t allowed to mention Zhao's Oscar win.

This is a terrible look for Beijing, especially compared with how American media was fine letting Zhao make awards for her critique of America. This is how you lose the soft-power war 
Zhao’s success shows just how much China is willing to give up. Accepting her award, she cited Confucian values, not controversy.

It might just have inspired Chinese citizens, to hear her speak in Mandarin from the Oscars podium 
China has long realized the importance of presenting a more favorable image by investing as much as $10 billion annually in its cultural diplomacy.

Yet as the 2021 Oscars showed, it’s all about control for Beijing — far more than silver screen glory 
Hollywood needs China. Zhao has directed the new Marvel Studios big-budget movie, which will need Chinese viewers to succeed.

But China doesn’t really need the West to promote soft power at home 
China is keenly aware that hard economic and military power needs this softer edge.

But until Beijing can yield, that far less costly and far more effective soft power will remain elusive 
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