CM – Zhang Zhehan is accused of « unpatriotic behavior » in the recent celebrity scandal in China

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Zhang, best known for starring in the hit TV series Word of Honor, sparked controversy after old photos of the actor visiting controversial shrines dedicated to Japanese war history emerged.

Social media has proven to be a double-edged sword for Chinese ambassadors of luxury and lifestyle brands. While a large following means a legion of fans to advertise, social media posts also open the floodgates to scandal and criticism.

A month after Kris Wu’s explosive scandal, Chinese actor Zhang Zhehan is embroiled in political controversy after Instagram posts by the actor visiting Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo were revealed on Weibo.

The Yasukuni Shrine was built to honor some of Japan’s war dead. Photos also surfaced of Zhang attending a wedding at Nogi Shrine, another notorious shrine honoring Japanese imperial military officers who invaded China during World War II.

Chinese media criticized Zhang for his unpatriotic behavior, while internet users denounced the actor as insensitive to the suffering China was going through.

More than 25 brands including Lanvin, Longines, Pandora, Coke, Clinique and Faster ended their partnerships with Zhang. Lanvin has also deleted all social media posts with Zhang, including his recent Qixi (Chinese Valentine’s Day) campaign.

The China Association of Performing Arts, a semi-official organization, also proposed on August 15 that the 30th boycott year-old actor.

« Yasukuni Shrine is a spiritual tool and symbol of Japanese militarism to wage foreign wars of aggression and a place for Japan’s right-wing forces to deny history and glorify wars of aggression, » a statement said Association.

Zhang apologized on August 13th and said, “Today I deeply apologize for my past ignorance, shame, and most importantly, my past inappropriate behavior. I attended a friend’s wedding in Japan. It is my mistake to overlook the historical background behind the wedding location and the political background of the other wedding guests.

When I used to travel everywhere, I liked to take photos casually. A lack of understanding of the local architecture and history and negligence in photographing the content resulted in content that seriously damaged the feelings of compatriots. I solemnly apologize here too, I’m sorry. ”

However, his apology did not appease the critics. Chinese newspaper People’s Daily commented, « As a public figure, one really shouldn’t have such a lack of historical knowledge and be ignorant of the suffering of the nation. »

China Central Television said in another comment that Zhang « touched the scars of history. » « As Chinese, we should remember history and build on it, » they said.

In the meantime, the Chinese social media platforms Weibo and Douyin have deleted Zhang’s accounts. « As public figures with many fans, knowing history should be a basic professional ethical standard to adhere to, » Sina Weibo said in a statement.

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