This year’s Boao Blockchain Forum for Asia in China’s Hainan Province was rudely interrupted when ‘Chairman Mao Zedong’ took to the stage, the BBC has reported.
The impersonator, Xu Guoxiang, sporting a grey suit and speaking in Mao’s native Hunan accent managed to be on stage for just enough time to deliver a short speech to wish the conference well, commenting, “I sincerely hope this forum is a success. I thank you in the name of Mao Zedong!”
Xu Guoxing had clearly stepped over the line with his impersonation, as China’s law prohibits using the names and images of party leaders for commercial purposes. Social media hasn’t taken to the stunt lightly either, largely condemning it, due to Mao’s huge status, still venerated by many as the father of the nation. Some who commented on Chinese social media platform, WeChat, said they feared Xu’s performance could even hurt the future of blockchain in China.
The event organizers have separated themselves from the stunt and have apologized, issuing a statement that Xu was not affiliated with the Blockchain Forum. One blockchain enthusiast denounced the impersonation as “shameless” and “sensationalist”.
China’s official media has been predictably reticent to report details, simply reporting that the man had delivered a speech with “actor characteristics and personal opinion”, according to China’s Global Times website, adding that Xu was a “little-known actor”.
Although there has been some loosening in free speech in China in recent years, it is still highly state-controlled. The US Congressional Executive Commission on China clarifies the current position:
“Chinese authorities, recognizing in recent years that limited freedom of expression enables the government to better monitor potentially problematic social issues have begun to tolerate criticism, but only from certain categories of people, a kind of “free-speech elite”, and only then in government-controlled forums.”
Blockchain is developing rapidly in China, with numerous conferences extolling the virtues of the new technology and how it can be applied to business on the Chinese mainland. At another recent conference, the China International Big Data Expo held in Guizhou Province, Xunlie Ltd CEO Lei Chen suggested that many applications of the technology can be applied to benefit users in their daily lives and work:
“Now for the first time ever, we have an internet of value that anything with value – from money, stocks and music – can be managed and communicated by peer-to-peer in a secured and private way.”
Lei added that he believed that the US and China were on the same starting line and that the fundamental infrastructure is the core for any countries to lead the world in the new technology, according to Business Wire.
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