Tech

Gerald Fenech

Mao Zedong stunt ends in furore at blockchain conference in China

A publicity stunt featuring a Mao Zedong lookalike ended badly for organizers of a blockchain conference in China.

Several Chinese cryptocurrency companies are up in arms after the Bo’Ao Blockchain Forum for Asia hired an actor to dress as China’s most famous leader and welcome attendees to the conference on Monday. The two-day event in Hainan province, different from the Bo’Ao Forum, was co-organized by Chinese crypto media company BiKuai.org.

A video emerged on Chinese social networks WeChat and Weibo showed an actor dressed in a grey Mao suit telling the audience, “You are worthy of being called the great sons and daughters of the Chinese nation, and I thank you in the name of Mao Zedong.”

The video caused an instant sensation and went viral across most Chinese social networks, with users expressing concerns that the stunt could hurt the future of blockchain in China. The damage, however, has been done, and several established Chinese blockchain companies such as BTC123 and Jinse Finance have called the organizer’s stunt as legally questionable. They also called for a complete boycott of the event to disassociate themselves from the stunt for fear of any government repercussions.

Under Chinese law, it is forbidden to use the images and names of past and present Communist Party leaders for commercial purposes. Mao Zedong, in particular, is held in reverence across the country as he is considered the founder of the modern nation.

After receiving extensive criticism of their promotion, event organizers BiKuai issued a clarification, in which they noted that the issue arose due to a lack of communication with the actor, identified as Xuo Guoxiang, before the event.

“The excellent speech made by Xu was largely appreciated by the audience … and shall only represent his own opinion, not that of the event organizer,” according to the organizers.

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