An AP headline today reads, “Chinese newspaper praises director Ang Lee”—the Academy Award-winning director of Brokeback Mountain. “Ang Lee is the pride of Chinese people all over the world, and he is the glory of Chinese cinematic talent,” said China Daily, the official newspaper of China, in a front-page article. But Lee is actually from Taiwan, a detail the People’s Republic of China would prefer to omit, since Taiwan is still claimed by China.
And despite the country’s praise for Lee’s award, Brokeback Mountain is actually banned in China, seen only by those who can get their hands on a pirated copy. Moreover, Chinese censors edited Lee’s acceptance speech at the Oscars down for public consumption, taking out both his thanks to “everyone in Taiwan” and his gratitude to “the two gay cowboys.” (Until 2001, the Chinese Psychiatric Association considered homosexuality a disease, treatable with shock therapy.)