As international film star, Gong Li, switches over from Chinese to Singaporean nationality, the online debate and media attention on her “Chineseness” begins. The Times reports:
Most Netizens voiced fury at her decision to take her husband’s nationality. Commenting in a chat forum on popular portal Sohu.com, one said: “All traitors will be nailed to history’s mast of shame. We should resolutely reject any further contact with such people.”
A few, however, voiced understanding of Ms Gong’s decision, noting the pressure such stars face in China and making veiled criticisms of the constraints on life – particularly for artists – in the communist country.
But the vein of nationalism runs deep. International criticism of a military crackdown on anti-Chinese protesters in Tibet following an uprising in the region in March provoked widespread anger. And when pro-Tibet demonstrators tried to disrupt the Olympic torch relay in cities such as London and Paris, anti-Western diatribes filled internet forums.
China does not allow dual citizenship. As the article points out, Gong Li is not the first star to change her nationality. More from Xinhua on the reaction to her decision:
Gong’s cyber-backers said that as her husband was a Singaporean, it was quite normal for her to switch citizenship. But others disagreed, saying that her link with China was the source of her fame.
China Youth Daily, a Beijing-based mass circulation newspaper, carried a comment on Tuesday, saying that the public should not make a fuss as it was a personal freedom to change one’s citizenship in a globalized world.
It said the reason for the outcry was the belief that celebrities could switch their citizenship much more easily than ordinary people, and they could enjoy the benefits and rights of their new citizenship.
Her decision may also affect her honorary standing as a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. From Zhongnanhai:
A reporter from the Huashang Daily called the news office of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. The staff reiterated again and again, “Gong Li is not a member anymore. She was a member for the ninth and tenth National Committee of the CPPCC.”
“Can Gong Li be a member again now that she has Singaporean citizenship?”
“There isn’t any written regulation that says a foreigner can not be a member, but generally speaking, all members are Chinese.”
Read also perspectives on The Independent.
Update: Read also another angle from the BBC on the reasoning behind changing citizenship that is not soley based on patriotism.
Photo courtesy of AFP/Getty Images.