The Bo’Ao Blockchain Forum for Asia launched in Hainan today, but no sooner had it begun than it had already drawn significant controversy as a hired actor delivered the welcome speech in the guise of Mao Zedong – “Chairman” Mao. A video showing the incident was broadcast on WeChat and Weibo, and has not only sparked a boycott of the event; it also has several people questioning the legality of the stunt.
Chairman Mao founded the modern constitution of the People’s Republic of China in 1982, and is China’s most well-known communist leader. He remains a highly controversial figure however, who deeply divides both Chinese and international opinion. Regardless of the choice of figurehead though, China has laws prohibiting any kind of representation of former or current leaders in any promotional activities. And BTC123 and Jinse Finance, among others, called for a boycott of the event.
The conference organizer was quick to apologize, saying:
We are sorry for the negative impact our conference had on the public, and we will continue to execute the conference with high standards.
But while this stunt will no doubt have drawn extra publicity to the event, and the apology was swiftly issued, the organizers of the Bo’Ao Blockchain Forum for Asia could well find themselves in hot water if Chinese authorities agree with some of the attendees’ assessments of the stunt’s legality.
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