Chinese celebrity chef sparks nationalistic uproar over egg fried rice video
A Chinese celebrity chef apologized online after facing backlash for posting an egg fried rice recipe video around the death anniversary of Mao Zedong’s son, Mao Anying.
Controversial cooking tutorial: Celebrity chef Wang Gang faced intense criticism and calls for a social media ban after posting a video to Weibo demonstrating his egg fried rice preparation on Nov. 27. Wang, who has 3.3 million Weibo followers and over 2 million YouTube subscribers, was accused by Chinese nationalists of disrespecting the memory of Mao Anying, the military officer son of Mao Zedong who died in a United States air strike during the Korean War on Nov. 25, 1950.
In response to the backlash, Wang told his millions of fans on Monday that he “will never make egg fried rice again.”
A recipe for outrage: The online anger stems from a disputed narrative that suggests that Mao Anying was killed after inadvertently revealing his position to enemy forces during the Korean War after attempting to cook egg fried rice.
Despite official denials by the Chinese Academy of History, the rumor persists, causing a highly sensitive atmosphere during October anmd November. Under Chinese President Xi Jinping, China has intensified its crackdown on any form of criticism directed towards national heroes, including a 2018 law criminalizing the insulting of “heroes and martyrs.”
Stirring nationalists’ anger: According to critics, Wang’s egg fried rice was ill-timed as it was posted just days after the anniversary of the tragedy. This also marks the third instance Wang prepared the recipe around the death anniversary.
Wang also uploaded an egg fried rice recipe on Oct. 22, 2018, just two days before Mao Anying’s birthday. When state-run media outlet People’s Daily endorsed his content two days later, nationalists accused the publication of corruption. On Oct. 24, 2020, Wang similarly faced criticism after sharing a video of himself making Yangzhou fried rice, leading to a public apology from Wang.
Some commenters have defended him, highlighting the other egg fried rice videos he posted throughout the year.
In defense of the fried rice: In his latest apology, Wang claimed his team posted the video without his knowledge, calling the recent scandal his “biggest mistake.”
“This video has caused a lot of trouble and a very bad experience for everyone. I apologize again,” he said, according to CNN. “I was busy with personal matters recently and did not participate in the release of the video.”
He has since removed his apology video and closed the comment sections.
Unlikely ally: Hu Xijin, a known nationalist pundit, has called for greater tolerance and understanding, cautioning against perpetuating controversies that strengthen the rumor’s impact.
“Being more tolerant of each other and not making this into a hot topic is by and large a comfort and protection to martyr Mao Anying’s heroic spirit,” wrote the former Global Times editor-in-chief. “It will help the issue gradually quiet down and weaken the rumor’s damage.”
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