Oscars 2022: Ceremony Will Not Air in China for Second Year in a Row

The decision is yet another sign of fraught U.S.-China relations and Hollywood’s deteriorating presence in the country.


Kicking off Sunday night in Los Angeles, the Academy Awards always take place Monday morning in China, due to the time difference. In years past, the ceremony was made available live across China by 1905.com, the online video platform of CCTV6, the dedicated movie channel of the Chinese state television network. An edited version of the show was later broadcast by CCTV6 on Monday during primetime.

In 2021, broadcasters in mainland China and Hong Kong declined to air the Oscars for the first time in decades. CCTV never explained the snub, while Hong Kong broadcaster TVB insisted the decision was taken for commercial reasons. But analysts interpreted the move as a punitive response to the nomination of Do Not Split, a film about Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, in the Oscars’ best short documentary category.

The best director nomination of Chinese filmmaker Chloe Zhao was also thought to be a factor. During the run-up to the Oscars Zhao became source of outrage in China after a critical comment she made about her homeland was unearthed in an old interview. When Zhao then won best director for Nomadland, local coverage and social media commentary of the moment was scrubbed from the internet by China’s censors.

Sources close to CCTV say that the broadcaster again has no plans to air this year’s Oscars ceremony, although it may include some coverage of the event in its movie news segments. Hong Kong broadcaster TVB didn’t respond to requests for comment, but any mention of the Oscars is missing from the broadcaster’s Monday programming schedules.

It’s unlikely that CCTV will ever offer a reason for its decision. Chinese industry insiders, though, floated two possibilities: official discomfort over the best documentary nomination of Jessica Kingdon’s impressionistic film Ascension, which explores the machinations of the Chinese economy; and concerns about any pro-Ukrainian statement that might be made from the Oscars awards podium.

Although Kingdon’s documentary was praised for nuance, its images of capitalistic excess are most likely not the portrayal of the “Chinese Dream” that Beijing officials would prefer.

China has attempted to straddle a delicate line of upholding its values of national sovereignty while also not condemning Russia, a geopolitical partner, for the invasion of Ukraine. A Hollywood actor’s impassioned plea for support for Ukraine would have no place in the current media landscape. Instead, Chinese state media outlets echoed Russia’s justifications for the war.