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In brief: If you're a China-based fan of Keanu Reeves, you'd be forgiven for thinking the Hollywood star has been erased from history, given that his work no longer appears on the country's largest streaming platforms—a result of his support for Tibet.
First reported by the Los Angeles Times, Reeves' catalog of movies, including the John Wick and Matrix franchises, has been removed from Chinese streaming platforms following his participation earlier this month in a benefit concert for Tibet House, a non-profit affiliated with the Dalai Lama.
Social media users had called for a boycott of Reeves after news of his support for the concert was reported in January, but The Matrix: Resurrections remained in the country's theaters and the March 3 date passed without any apparent action being taken against him.
Last Monday, however, streaming platforms including Tencent Video and iQiyi removed video content featuring the Canadian actor, and searching for his name in Chinese—Jinu Liweisi—brought no results. "Due to relevant laws, regulations and policies, some results are not shown," states iQiyi.
At least 19 of Reeves' movies were removed from Tencent Video, and only Toy Story 4 remained on others; the animation's voice cast lists only the Chinese dubbing artists, not Reeves' name. Whether the platforms were ordered to remove the items by regulators or acted of their own accord is unclear, as is why the streamers decided to delete the content now.
China rejects claims of Tibetan independence and recognizes the current Panchen Lama, put in place by the Communist Party, as the highest religious figure in Tibet, writes Reuters.
Reeves previously had a strong relationship with China. The Matrix Resurrections was the first Hollywood blockbuster to release in the country following a two-month drought, the result of unusually lengthy censorship approvals on US titles. His 2013 film Man of Tai Chi—was co-produced by both the US and China, and he has talked publicly about his "love" of his Chinese heritage.
Per popular request, here's Mr. John Cena's apology video with English subtitles. I kept all the incoherence in the video, as well as the curious absence of what he's actually apologizing for pic.twitter.com/WmJlRcyOID— Tony Lin -東尼 (@tony_zy) May 25, 2021
Reeves isn't the first actor to face a backlash in China. In May last year, John Cena posted a 68-second apology video in Mandarin (badly, apparently) after referring to Taiwan as a country while on a promotional tour for F9. "I'm so, so sorry for my mistake. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm very sorry. You have to understand I love and respect China and Chinese people. I'm sorry," said the Peacemaker star.