Many crypto media companies are currently boycotting an ongoing blockchain summit after the organizer used an impersonator who impersonated Chairman Mao to promote the summit.
The event, called the Bo’Ao Blockchain Forum for Asia (not to be confused with the Bo’Ao Forum) runs for two days in Hainan province and is co-hosted by BiKuai.org and kicked off Monday as scheduled.
Soon after starting, a short video emerged on Weibo and WeChat, showing an actor hired by the organizers mimicking Mao Zedong in a welcome speech.
The actor, Xu Guoxiang, said in the speech:
“In the name of Mao Zedong, I’d like to say thank you to all the attendees today … And I wish the event will be tremendously successful.”
The video went viral almost immediately. Several blockchain companies at the summit, such as BTC123 and Jinse Finance, immediately criticized the organizer’s conduct as being legally questionable. They further called for a boycott of the event in an effort to eliminate any association with the Mao stunt over fears of a possible government backlash.
In 2007, China’s Ministry of Commerce enacted a rule banning commercial activities from making associations with high-level Chinese leaders. However, commercial promotion using an image of the person either directly or via impersonation is not prohibited.
After widespread criticism if the promotion, the organizer of the event, BiKuai issued a statement to the public, suggesting in the statement that the issue came about due to a lack of communication with the actor prior to the event’s start.
“The excellent speech made by Xu was largely appreciated by the audience … and shall only represent his own opinion, not that of the event organizer,” the statement said.