While in Shanghai promoting the Disney movie Maleficient, Angelina Jolie named Ang Lee as her favorite Chinese director, and her selection was surprisingly unpopular with Chinese fans.
Lee, who directed films “Brokeback Mountain” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” was born in southern Taiwan. Apparently, Jolie’s praise for the director implied that she has taken sides in the China-Taiwan conflict.
“I am not sure if you consider Ang Lee Chinese, he’s Taiwanese, but he does many Chinese-language films with many Chinese artists and actors, and I think his works and the actors in his films are the ones I am most familiar with and very fond of,” the Oscar-winning actress said in response to a question from the Associated Press.
That seemingly frivolous interview generated incredible outcry from Chinese Internet users. One Chinese Weibo poster even accused Jolie of “disrespecting China’s sovereignty,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
The Journal also highlights comments from an emotional Chinese Internet user who fumed, “By implying that Taiwan and China are two separate countries, in a moment of excitement, a brilliant woman [Jolie] became a stupid laughingstock.”
Jolie, who is a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN, appears to be one of the few Hollywood celebrities with some knowledge of world politics. However, the actress likely did not intend to stir such political controversy while on a press tour for a children’s movie.
Whether or not Chinese film fans continue to hold Jolie’s comments against her will become evident when Maleficient debuts to audiences on June 20.