A Chinese celebrity chef has apologised after he was accused of insulting the memory of Mao Zedong’s son by posting a video about how to cook egg fried rice.
Wang Gang, who has more than 3.3 million followers on Weibo and more than 2 million on YouTube, faced a torrent of criticism by viewers who accused him of deliberately publishing his cooking tutorial around the anniversary of the death of Mao Anying as an act of mockery.
“As a chef, I will never make fried rice again,” Wang said in his apology on Monday after taking down the video.
This year’s gaffe was Wang’s third offence. He released similar videos around the time of the anniversary of Mao Anying’s death in 2018 and 2020, both times prompting an outcry on social media.
Mao Anying, a Chinese military officer, was killed by US bombers on 25 November 1950 during the Korean war. A persistent but frequently denied rumour says he was trying to cook egg fried rice instead of taking shelter, and the smoke from the fire exposed his position to enemy forces.
One commenter wrote on Weibo of Wang’s video: “As an ordinary person who gets a lot of money by posting some cooking videos, he should at least not be disrespectful to this country and the people who sacrificed for this country.”
In 2018, China’s government criminalised the act of insulting “heroes and martyrs” said to have sacrificed themselves for China or the Communist party cause.
The Chinese Academy of History has said the claim about Mao Anying is a “most vicious rumour”, but the story remains popular. The rumour – and references to egg fried rice – are now a taboo topic in China’s highly sensitive and controlled political environment. References to the dish are not censored but are fraught around this time of year.
Hu Xijin, a public commentator and nationalistic media personality, said: “In the future, around the anniversary of the death of martyr Mao Anying, the public opinion field should avoid touching the topic of egg fried rice.”
Some supported Wang. “There’s nothing wrong with egg fried rice,” said one Weibo user. “What’s wrong is that you were born in the wrong place. Chefs can consider going abroad to find freedom in food teaching.”
Source : The Guardian