Course:ASIA321/2022/Zhang Ziyi

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Zhang Ziyi (Chinese: 章子怡) is a famous Chinese actress who has won and been nominated for several film and acting awards throughout the globe. Zhang's success in her acting career includes a plethora of success covering professional jobs, personal life, public recognition, and beyond. She is one of the most recognized Chinese actors both domestically to China and internationally towards the world.


Zhang Ziyi on the red carpet

Born and raised in Beijing, China, Zhang's acting career and her pursuit of the arts began at a young age. Zhang Ziyi was born into a middle-class family and she has one older brother. The now-famous actress first started her acting career in 1996, which took off with her debut film, Touching Starlight (1996). Around the same time of the film, Zhang began her education at the Central Academy of Drama. In the early stages of her career, Zhang was casted for the movie, The Road Home (《我的父親母親》)(1999). Zhang began her passage to fame as a mou nülang (Yimou Girl), a name that categorizes actresses starring in the films of one of the most famous directors in China, Zhang Yimou (张艺谋). The actress first gained international recognition from The Road Home, which won a Berlin Silver Bear in 2000. The movie also led to her first breakthrough as well as Best Actress Award at the 2000 Hundred Flowers Awards. In the award winning Memoirs of A Geisha(《藝伎回憶錄》)(2005), Zhang starred as Chiyo Sakamoto/Sayuri Nitta. The film won an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Satellite Award. Zhang Ziyi herself was also nominated for outstanding actress for the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the NAACP Image Awards.

Zhang's impact in film can also be reflected in her professional contribution to the industry. With her success as an international celebrity, Zhang served as the President of the International Competition jury at the 2019 Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF). In the same year, Zhang also presented a master class at the Cannes film festival. In recent years, Zhang has been directing shows and movies in China while appearing on several Chinese reality shows. Her expertise in film and acting scored her success in the popular TV show《演员的诞生》, The Birth of an Actor, starring as one of the judges.

Life roles

Student and Actress

Zhang Ziyi studied folk dance for 6 years in the Affiliated Middle School of Beijing Dance Academy, and furthered her studies in the Performance Department of the Central Academy of Drama. Her middle school experience laid a solid foundation for her famous dancing and fighting scenes in both Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon(《卧虎藏龙》) (2000), and House of Flying Daggers(《十面埋伏》) [1](2004).

Romantic Partner

In the history of Zhang Ziyi's love life, her most well-known partners are: Fok Qishan, Aviv Vivi Nevo[2] and Sa Beining[3]. Among them, Fok Qishan is the vice president of Fok Yingdong Group, vice president of Guangzhou General Chamber of Commerce, and a board member and vice chairman of Youth Committee of Hong Kong Chinese General Chamber of Commerce. He graduated from King's College London. Aviv Vivi Nevo is an Israeli venture capitalist and a major shareholder in WarnerMedia. Sa Beining, who graduated from Peking University, is a famous anchorman of China Media Group. These three men are all very talented, so it's reasonable to assume that talent is an important trait for Zhang in a relationship, apart from physical appearance. Zhang Ziyi eventually married famous Chinese singer Wang Feng in 2015 and has a son and a daughter together.

Zhang Ziyi and her daughter are doing sport on Weibo


In addition to commercial advertisements, Zhang Ziyi's current micro blog consists of her children and Wang Feng. In fact, for a time she even changed her micro blog name to "Wake Up's Mom" (Xing Xing Ma Ma). Through the photos on her micro blog, it seems like she is trying to pivot from her stubborn, bitter, aggressive screen image to a loving, kind-hearted mother. Especially after her participation in a very famous Chinese variety show "Viva La Romance Season 2"(《妻子的浪漫旅行》)[4], she shared many stories about her and Wang Feng on the show, which also showed her open and bright personality. The show has helped Zhang to bridge the gap between her fans and the many facets of her life - she is not only the actress Zhang Ziyi, but also the mother of her children and the wife of Wang Feng.


Later in Zhang's career, she also took on a new role of a producer through films like Very Perfect, Very Lucky (2013) and Falling From Heaven (2015). These films also show Zhang Ziyi's professional ambition, as she not only wants to be an excellent actress, she also wants to be an excellent producer. In her recent micro blog post, she previewed her new film, Poetry (2022), as a director. She then released her behind-the-scenes documentary on Chinese video platforms. This is a new attempt by Zhang Ziyi, which is in line with her aggressive and adventurous screen roles such as Yu Jiaolong in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon(《卧虎藏龙》) [5] and Gong Er in The Grandmaster(《一代宗师》)[6].

Screen roles

Movies that defined the key milestones of Zhang Ziyi's career:

1999, Zhao Di, The Road Home Zhang Ziyi and Zhang Yimou collaborate for the first time in the interpretation of the art film. Zhang Ziyi won the best Actress award for the first time.

2000, Yu Jiaolong, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Zhang Yimou recommended Zhang Ziyi to Director Ang Lee, and this is Zhang's first martial arts film. Zhang Ziyi won the Hong Kong Golden Bauhinia Award, best Supporting Actress at the MTV Movie Awards and best Supporting Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards.

2001, Hu Li, Rush Hour 2 Zhang Ziyi's first film with a foreign star. The film grossed $347,325,802 USD worldwide and set the stage for Zhang's Hollywood career.

2001, Princess Furong, The Warriors A Chinese and Korean co-produced historical action film. The film also expanded Zhang's overseas popularity especially in other parts of Asia.

2002, Ru Yue, Hero Zhang Ziyi works with director Zhang Yimou for the second time. It was the first Chinese mainland film to earn more than 100 million yuan at the box office, making it the highest-grossing film in mainland China at the time. In August 2004, it topped the box office for two consecutive weeks in North America and grossed $177 million USD worldwide.

2004, Ge Ji, House of Flying Daggers This is Zhang Ziyi's third collaboration with Director Zhang Yimou, and the second martial arts film directed by Zhang Yimou.

Zhang as Chiyoko in Memoirs of Geisha

2005, Chiyoko, Memoirs of a Geisha One of the most controversial movies from Zhang. It is based on the 1997 English novel "Memories of a Geisha" by American author Arthur Golden. However, while Zhang's portrayal of a Japanese Geisha sparked national resentment in China at a sensitive time of Sino-Japanese relations, the Japanese audience were also angry about foreigners playing Geisha.

2007, Kara, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The first time that Zhang Ziyi voice acted for an animation film.

2009, Sophie, Sophie's Revenge Zhang Ziyi became a producer for the first time.

2013, Gong Ruo Mei, The Grandmaster Zhang Ziyi enhanced her martial arts skills to that of a professional and the film has won many international and national awards.

2013, Sophie, My Lucky Star Zhang Ziyi's second film as a producer.

2021, Yu Kai Ying, Me and My Parents A multi-part feature film released in 2021 in mainland China. It adopts the same production style as its predecessors, 'My People, My Country' (2019) and 'My Hometown' (2020). It is co-directed and starred by Wu Jing, Zhang Ziyi, Xu Zheng and Shen Teng. Zhang Ziyi directed the second part of Me and My Parents, titled Poem.

Substantive analysis of the celebrity's profession

A critical analysis of a film starring Zhang Ziyi

The Road Home Zhang Ziyi plays Zhao Di when she was young. Zhao Di is a young and simple rural girl who has the courage to pursue her love. Although her love story with Mr. Teaching experienced many hardships and obstacles, but finally waited for Mr. Teaching and happily spent more than 40 years together. Zhao Di's persistence and belief in love are very prominent in the film. Therefore, the beauty of Zhang Ziyi in this play is very simple and pure. She doesn't embellish her appearance with too much makeup, so her beauty is natural and harmless. In Hidden Dragon crouching Tiger, Yu Jiaolong, played by Zhang Ziyi, is a determined chivalrous woman who longs for freedom and advocates unfettered rules. Therefore, her image in the play is always with a strong and stubborn sense. Yu Jiaolong has an undisguised desire for success that gives Zhang Ziyi's acting a vibrant sense of aggression.

Of The two, The Road Home is an art-house film directed by Zhang Yimou, while Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a martial arts drama directed by Ang Lee. Zhang Ziyi is known for art-house films, but her solid dancing skills provided a solid foundation for Hidden Dragon crouching Tiger. This also contributes to Zhang Ziyi's uniqueness that she can play both literary films and martial arts dramas.

Zhang Ziyi's contribution to the film industry

Zhang’s career as a Chinese actress was not only symbolic of the fifth-generation films, but her international success brought both the western and Chinese cinema to new heights.

Zhang Ziyi from acrofan.jpg

For Hollywood, the blockbuster films that Zhang acted in, such as Rush Hour 2 (2001) and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), became the leading films that introduced Asian culture to the big screen in the West[7]. These movies enhanced Hollywood's image as being a racially inclusive, equal opportunity, and global industry [7], which to a larger extent, also helped to enforce America's perception of itself being a pluralistic society that allows for individual success regardless of ethnic background [8].

For the Chinese cinema, Zhang was critical in showcasing how the entire industry was transforming. Her participation in western films provided a gateway for the world to reassess their view of Chinese films, which was formerly dominated by action stars like Jackie Chan and Jet Li who attracted many of the audience through their intense cinematic plots filled with eye-opening stunts. Although Zhang entered Hollywood through action films and swordswomen roles, she was able to pivot her career through Memoirs of a Geisha and winning the audience over with her acting skills rather than kung-fu abilities. More importantly, Zhang Ziyi became one of the first commercialised Chinese actors who was able to export the oriental culture (文化输出) with the aid of pop culture and media. Supposedly, a star like Zhang Ziyi can be more effective than 10 000 copies of Confucian works in spreading Chinese culture[8].

Thereby, Zhang Ziyi’s fame and success played a vital role in many contexts, from intertwining the Chinese and western film industries to shining a new light on Chinese culture.

Key societal, economic, political, moral, and historical forces that influenced Zhang Ziyi's career :

A few of Zhang Ziyi's work centred on one of the key political ambitions of modern China, the revitalization of the country side. With the film My Father and Mother (《我的父亲母亲》), and the main melody film she took part in directing, My Country, My Parents (《我和我的父辈》),Zhang's work in these films show alignment with the media ideals, censorships and national policies posed by the Chinese government.[9] Both of the films shows heart-felt problems of citizens in the grassroots level, making them easier to resonate to amongst the Chinese audience. My Country, My Parent magnifies the connection between home and country while places emphasis on the powerful actions from small figures in society. The film gained impressive box office numbers at around 1.2 billion yuan.

However, In Memoirs of a Geisha, Zhang encountered adverse reaction for portraying a Japanese character for an international film. Winning both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes, the film was claimed to evoke wartime aristocracy amongst the Netizens in Chinese Media. As a result, the release of the film was canceled in China, mainland. Although this is not the first time Chinese actresses has portrayed foreign stories, the moral and geopolitical sensitivity towards Japan after the Sino Japanese War remains heightened amongst the Chineses audience.[10] Besides the ban of the film in the Chinese market, Zhang was also labeled to be "unpatriotic" for portraying the Geisha. Some Netizens took the online subjugation further by asking Zhang to abandon her Chinese nationality.[10] Despite all the backlash domestically, the film earned both Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li, two of the most internationally recognized Chinese actresses, profound recognition and success internationally.

Reception of the celebrity

Debut vs Now

During the early 2000s, as Zhang starred in more internationally acclaimed films and collaborated with other high-standing celebrities, her reputation soared. In 2002, the Nanfang Metropolis Daily newspaper named Zhang as one of the Four Dan Actress along with Wei Zhao (赵薇), Xun Zhou (周迅), and Jing lei Xu (徐静蕾). This establishes Zhang as one of the most influential and popular Chinese actresses at the time, as the appointment of Four Dan Actress identifies the most bankable actress in mainland China[11].  

The Chinese audience was very proud of Zhang’s accomplishments, as she had won multiple titles such as Best Supporting Female for Independent Spirit Awards, Nominee for Best Actress at the Golden Globe Awards, and Best Young Actress in an International Film of the Young Artist Award. All these titles earned Zhang Ziyi the nickname of “International Zhang” (国际章), symbolising the worldwide success she curated and how she brought pride and respect to China[12].  

Today, Zhang has transitioned from a young and ambitious celebrity to an experienced actress who is spending less time on the big screen. In 2018, Zhang appeared on the show “I am the Actor” as a mentor, and provided critiques and feedback to the contestants. Zhang reminded the audience of her exceptional acting skills through an improvised scene with Du Chun which earned her much applause [13]. From the show, Zhang refined her image to the public as being a dedicated, talented yet hard-working professional actress.

Hollywood: New Face of Kung Fu

Zhang’s performance in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon introduced her to opportunities in Hollywood as many people in the west saw Zhang as an action star for her impressive dance moves in the movie, and she received many Hollywood offers for kung-fu related roles[11]. However, Zhang wanted to be more than an action star.

Zhang’s major step in breaking into Hollywood was landing the leading role of Chiyo in Memoirs of a Geisha, which was produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Rob Marshall in 2005. Although the film received a mix of reviews for Zhang was a Chinese actress playing a Japanese Geisha, it created the foundation of Zhang’s international success as it won several Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and BAFTA Award titles. In the same year, TIME magazine accredited Zhang as “China’s gift to Hollywood” [14] and named her as one of the “World’s 100 Most Influential People”.

Zhang was regarded as one of the faces of new kung fu[15] by the Western audience during the early 2000s, reflecting the close association the western crowd had with Chinese movies and kung fu despite her efforts to pull away from that image.


Inappropriate Relationships: Zhang Ziyi and Zhang Yimou

One of the earliest rumours of Zhang was about her relationship with Zhang Yimou. After starring in The Road Home, the media prescribed the nickname of “Little Gong Li” to Zhang, as Zhang was the new actress that Zhang Yimou mentored and worked with. However, there was an additional meaning to the nickname: it was intended as a contemptuous title that complemented the rumours of a love affair between Zhang and Zhang Yimou[16]. For reference, Gong Li actually had a love affair with Zhang Yimou during the time of filming for the Red Sorghum (1987), when Zhang was married to Xiao Hua.


I think scandalous relationships bring the thrill of entertainment from on screen to real life for the audience. This scandal also demonstrates how the public is attracted to celebrity gossip, even though there may not be any evidence of Zhang having an affair with Zhang Yimou but the rumour remains to be widely circulated. Celebrity gossip can satisfy the human instinct and compulsion to talk about others, and learning about the ‘secret lives’ of the stars allows the audience to temporarily escape from their lives and be submerged in a different world[17].

Furthermore, with the precedent of Gong Li and Zhang Yimou, the rumour of Zhang engaging in a similar kind of relationship with the director becomes more persuasive. Whispers of romantic interactions between Zhang Yimou and his actresses brought a lot of attention to his work, increasing his films’ exposure. When the public wonders about his personal relationships, they will also pay more attention to his films as the Yimou Girls are then inspected by the public about their relationships with Zhang Yimou.

Fraudulent Donations: 2008 Sichuan Earthquake

Another scandal that plagues Zhang’s career is the accusation of fradulent donations in 2010, which was posted through an online blog post.

There were three aspects to this scandal. The first point of controversy was that Zhang claimed to have personally donated $1 million yuan to support the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, but later it was confirmed that only $84 000 yuan was transferred to the China Red Cross. The second point of controversy was that when Zhang attended the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, she announced the establishment of the Zhang Ziyi Foundation, which is registered in California, USA, and aims to gather funds from donors to support the Chinese Red Cross Foundation. However, many internet users claimed to be unable to find such organisations on the Red Cross Foundation website, inciting the belief that the Zhang Ziyi Foundation was merely a facade and created to enhance Zhang’s philanthropic image. Lastly, it was revealed that although Zhang claimed to have gathered approximately $500 000 USD within four days at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, the actual amount of funds collected at the event was $ 1 392 USD, far differing from the half million announced. Altogether, the misleading claims that Zhang and her team made put Zhang under intense criticism and backlash from the general public.


I think the Chinese audience were especially infuriated by the donation mishap from Zhang because it directly relates to the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake which is a turning point for Chinese philanthropy[18]. This natural disaster holds significance as the first event that allowed the Chinese government and society to experience the power of charity[19]. Many applauded the efforts of charities and their accomplishments to support the lives of victims of the earthquake.

I would think that the Chinese netizens were also displeased because they had previously admired Zhang and her representation of China at a global stage - she was seen as a national pride. Thereby, many found it hard to believe that such a figure of high publicity and international success would perform such an act of charity fraud.

A-list celebrities like Zhang achieves a more positive and charitable reputation through philanthropy, but when their promises are not fulfilled, it pins them as being fraudulent and untrustworthy, and not benefiting society as a whole.

Critical literature review

Sensing ‘performance anxiety’: Zhang Ziyi, Tang Wei, and female film stardom in the People’s Republic of China by Mila Zuo, a UBC professor, highlights the sexual objectivity of woman and the criticism circulating eroticism in the after the cultural revolution and the Post-Mao Era. The inequality in social relationship between men and women in a society's valued based on neo-Confucianist moralism creates increase in anxiety for women in the film and entertainment industry. Scandals and speculations claiming top Chinese actresses as "high-end prostitutes" discredits not only Zhang, but the women in the entertainment industry as a whole. The article also explored the phenomenon of the Chinese pubic tying national pride and identity with internationally renounced actresses; causing performance anxieties towards these actress similarly to sexual performance anxiety.

Known for her bright skin tone and slim figure, Zhang's beauty aligns with the "hegemonic Anglo-European standards of beauty".[20] Zhang's ethereal beauty was also objectified not only my the Chinese audiences, but also western media. The erotics of spectatorship serves at the root of performance anxiety amongst female celebrities such as Zhang Ziyi and Tang Wei. The antagonization of the female stars for their provocativeness reflects that despite achieving worldwide fame and recognition in the twenty-first century, popularity and social criticism accompanies each other. In Chinese media, female stars' bodies can be seen as objects of mistrust, evoking physical pleasures and sensory perceptions.  

Zhang Ziyi and China’s Celebrity–Philanthropy Scandals by Elaine Jeffreys describes the fraudulent philanthropic incident circling the actress during the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. Locating at 7.8 on the Richter Scale, the devastating event took away the lives of 70,000 while leaving around five million people without homes.[21] Jeffreys listed the scandal from beginning until the end by including background stories about Zhang and her magnitude of fame and success in China and internationally. She then included the problem that rooted the scandal. In regards to this earthquake, Zhang Ziyi, as a public figure responded to this incident with three actions. First, her and her team claimed to have donated one million yuan to the Red Cross in China. Second, she furthered disaster-relief efforts by establishing the Zhang Ziyi foundation. Last but not least, the new also claimed that she has gathered a total between US$500,000 and seven million dollars for charity donations in Cannes, the South of France destination where the celebrity was located in during the Sichuan earthquake. However, the article followed up with distrust reflected from the Chinese audience as online sources claimed that Zhang donated a lesser amount than claimed.[21] Jeffreys shows Zhang Ziyi's self recognition on the scandals and acknowledges she only donated around 840,000 yuan. Zhang herself blames the differences between the initial projection and the end results of the scandal towards the miscommunications with staff.

Jeffreys not only listed how the scandal impacted Zhang, but also how it reflects the public opinions on the private accumulation of wealth, the public's distrust of the rich and famous and most importantly, the development of a philanthropic culture in the PRC reform-era China. Zhang's backlash in the philanthropy scandal shows the public motivation through the increase of demands in social responsibilities from renowned celebrities. However, the obligation of giving back takes away the freedom from philanthropy initiations. Instead, a trend of donation by force as not only a part of social change but also the redistribution of wealth shows the multitude of public relations dynamic celebrities in China needs to face under the criticisms of the Netizens.

The Importance of Being Chinese: Orientalism Reconfigured in the Age of Global Modernity[22] is written by Chu Yiu-Wai and published in 2008. The scholarly article aims to provide a different understanding of Chineseness as exemplified through Zhang Ziyi, who is deemed as a “new Chinese icon”.

Chu first explores how fifth-generation films from Chinese directors like Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou, enacted the concept of “Orientalism of the Orientals” and marked the change from “orientalism in the west” to a kind of “self-orientalism”. The fifth-generation films provided an authentic perspective to Chinese society and culture, but it has also created many topics of controversy, especially concerns from the Chinese public regarding self-orientalism. Some critics argued that fifth-generation films are unfavourable as they commodify Chineseness to the Western market.

However, these fifth-generation films also allowed Zhang Ziyi to become the most recognized Chinese diva in internationally acclaimed Chinese-language films but this occurrence was complemented by the changing macro environment of the film industry as well. Aside from exorcizing and commodifying Chineseness, critics also viewed Zhang as not representing real Chinese culture, such that the western film world favours her because she closely adheres to the westerners’ image of a Chinese woman. The more popular Zhang became to the western audience, the less Chinese she became to the Chinese critics.

Through Chu’s article, one can see the conflicting sides to Zhang’s rise to international fame through a societal perspective, the arguments both supporting and criticizing her film image and representation.

‘The Era Of Lustrous Screen Sirens Lives On, Thousands Of Miles From Hollywood’: The Cross-Cultural Reception Of Chinese Martial Arts Cinema’s Sword-wielding Actresses[23] is written by Catherine Gomes and published by Penn State University Press. The article discusses the complexities of the glamorization of ethnic (specifically East Asian) actresses in Hollywood and their success. Additionally, the paper also examines the difference in the value of glamour in Asia and Hollywood.

Gomes pointed out that both Cheung and Zhang received praise from film critics for their performances in action films, describing them as embodying the glamour or classical Hollywood cinema. Supposedly, glamourising ethnic actresses in popular media helps to decrease the discomfort of their ethnicity to the western public. Especially for Chinese actresses, they are glamorized even more for their ethnicity can be threatening due to China’s dominant global position.

The whitening of ethnic actresses indirectly Americanizes them as well, since Hollywood equates being white with being American. Cheung and Zhang have both undergone some degree of whitening through their roles in cross-cultural films such as Les Vampires and The Heroic Trio.

Lastly, the paper also examines the duality of the public’s perception of Chinese actresses in Hollywood, whereby the audience and the industry do have an oriental fascination but also feel intimidated by their Chinese ethnicity. One way that Hollywood copes with this sense of fear is to position Asian female roles in film to be ‘sexually available and attracted to the white hero’. Through this tactic, the films can mitigate the inherent threat posed by Chinese actresses and their ethnicity.

Critical debates

Zhang Ziyi and China’s Celebrity–Philanthropy Scandals

Zhang has been contributing to philanthropy and giving back to the society throughout her career. Many Netizens argue that Zhang and other wealthy celebrities should donate to charity as an obligatory way to give-back and participate in wealth distribution.[21] However, when donations and contributions become a moral imperative, the aspect of voluntarism in philanthropy gets taken away. It is debatable on whether or not celebrity donations should be over the headlines on important and devastating issues such as the Sichuan earthquake.

Elaine Jeffreys argues that the social phenomenon is also shaped by political forces. After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Hu Jintao, the President of the People's Republic of China from 2003 to 2013, praised the public's contribution in relief funds. The promotion of philanthropic citizenry can also be seen as a way to supplement China's social security system that is still comparatively behind the west.[21] The increasing professionalized and organized relationship between non-governmental organizations, celebrity sectors and the Chinese government reflects China's promotion in new social and developmental populist initiatives.[5]As being involved in celebrity-fronted philanthropy becomes a moral compass for famous entertainers such as Zhang Ziyi, different perspectives in- regards to the phenomenon were introduced. Deng and Jeffreys argue that celanthropy can be inspiring for the general public to follow while keeping the social- economic system in-check.[5] However, celebrity-fronted philanthropy can also make famous people as “Big Citizens” that can over-shadow the real and less glorified, grassroots problems in society.[5]

The Importance of Being Chinese: Orientalism Reconfigured in the Age of Global Modernity

One critical debate that arises from this paper is the appropriateness of self-orientalism that was exhibited through the fifth-generation films.

One side of the argument is that these films commoditize traditional Chinese culture and values, such as loyalty and martial arts, in order to appeal to the western film audience. Additionally, the fifth-generation films were seen as having demonised China through their portrayal of Chineseness, both in the Chinese cinema and Hollywood theatres. This was due to the momentum that at the turn of the twenty first century, China wanted to reposition itself as a global leader. With a booming economy, China wanted to be better integrated to the world as it joined many international organisations such as the World Trade Organisation.

Alternatively, the opposing argument is that self-orientalization also indicates China's intention to sell and promote itself to the world, attracting more attention at the global stage as an economic and cultural powerhouse. Since the majority of Chinese films are excluded from the Western market, Zhang's representation of Chinese culture to the world becomes an important tool to market such oriental values. As China is striving to glamourize its international reputation, having an icon like Zhang and the cultural products of the fifth-generation films cultivates a 'Chinese Dream', sending the message that China is more than just the world's largest labour market but also rich with culture that can be enticing to the west as well.

The article examines various debates concerning the different values that Zhang Ziyi and her international success embodies, both for her as an individual, for the Chinese cinema as an industry, and even for China overall as a nation state.



Zhang Ziyi can be considered as a versatile and popularized actress in modern China. She experienced controversial issues such as "Philanthropy Scandals" and "debate on her national belief”. Through the two critical debates, Zhang reflects the pros and cons of celebrity culture in China and the expectations within the Chinese society for actresses to fit into the main-melody and Confucianist moral imperative. Moreover, the political, social development of the modern China can be observed through many of the controversies of Zhang Ziyi’s career. For future research, more reasoning on why Zhang gained substantive popularity in the West can be explored. Further, the lack of academic work on Zhang Ziyi also shows the gap between the disparities in popular culture between the East and the West.


  1. "House of Flying Daggers".
  2. "wiki of Aviv Vivi Nevo".
  3. "wiki of Sa Beijing".
  4. "introduction of Viva La Romance Season 2".
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name ":4" defined multiple times with different content
  6. "The_Grandmaster".
  7. 7.0 7.1 Pham, Minh-Ha T. (May 03 2013). "The Asian Invasion (of Multiculturalism) in Hollywood". Journal of Popular Film and Television. 32:3: 121–131 – via Researchgate. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Gomes, Catherine (2008). "The Era Of Lustrous Screen Sirens Lives On, Thousands Of Miles From Hollywood". Penn State University Press. Vol. 1: 70–93 – via JSTOR.
  9. Meng, Bingchun (2018). The Politics of Chinese Media: Consensus and Contestation. Palgrave Macmillan US.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Zuo, Mila. "Sensing 'performance anxiety': Zhang Ziyi, Tang Wei, and female film stardom in the People's Republic of China". Celebrity Studies. 6.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Memoirs of a Geisha a Hollywood breakthrough role for Zhang Ziyi". The Standard. May 23, 2019. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  12. Tanco, Jodie (March 16). "The Four Dan: Discover China's Most Bankable Actresses". Retrieved March 27, 2022. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. "如何评价章子怡在浙江卫视《我就是演员》中的表现?". Toutiao. September 8, 2018. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  14. "Zhang Ziyi grows into international star". August 14, 2005. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  15. Stern, Marlow (August 16, 2013). "The Grandmaster's Zhang Ziyi on Saying No to Hollywood". News Week. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  16. "Zhang Ziyi: Rising Movie Star". February 4, 2009. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  17. Dovey, Dana (November 24, 2015). "Rumor Has It: The Science Behind Why We Love Celebrity Gossip And Tabloid Magazines". Medical Daily. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  18. Howe, Michael (May 6, 2009). "Changes in Chinese Philanthropy One Year After the Sichuan Earthquake". Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  19. Lin, Qiqing (May 11, 2018). "The Destructive Earthquake That Gave China's Charities New Life". Sixth Tone. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  20. Zuo, Mila. "Sensing 'performance anxiety': Zhang Ziyi, Tang Wei, and female film stardom in the People's Republic of China". Celebrity Studies. 6.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Jeffreys, Elaine (2011). "Zhang Ziyi and China's Celebrity - Philanthropy Scandals". Portal. 8: 1–21.
  22. Chu, Yiu-Wai (Summer 2008). "The Importance of Being Chinese: Orientalism Reconfigured in the Age of Global Modernity". Boundary 2. Volume 35, Issue 2: 183–206 – via Duke Press. line feed character in |title= at position 33 (help)
  23. Gomes, Catherine (January 1, 2008). "'The Era Of Lustrous Screen Sirens Lives On, Thousands Of Miles From Hollywood': The Cross-Cultural Reception Of Chinese Martial Arts Cinema's Sword-wielding Actresses". Reception. 1: 70–93 – via Scholarly Publishing Collective.


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