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Movies featuring Keanu Reeves were removed from Chinese streaming platforms after the movie star appeared at a charity benefit for Tibet
Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Movies featuring Keanu Reeves were removed from Chinese streaming platforms after the movie star appeared at a charity benefit for Tibet

One of Hollywood’s most lovable movie stars may now be blacklisted from the world’s largest film market as Chinese streaming platforms remove movies and other video content featuring Keanu Reeves after the actor appeared at a fundraiser hosted by a nonprofit affiliated with the Dalai Lama.

In early March, according to the Los Angeles Times, the “John Wick” and “Matrix” star participated in a benefit concert hosted by the New York-based nonprofit Tibet House. Reeves’s presence and role in the benefit concert appears to have angered Chinese censors as one Chinese streaming platform, Tencent Video, has scrubbed nearly 20 movies featuring Reeves from its catalog.

Tibet House is a nonprofit that — according to its website — was founded “at the request of His Holiness the Dali Lama” and is “dedicated to preserving Tibet’s unique culture at a time when it is confronted with extinction on its own soil.”

The Chinese Communist Party rejects the notion of Tibetan independence and views the Dali Lama — a Nobel Prize laureate — as a dangerous “separatist” as he continues to advocate for the geopolitical independence of Tibet and an end to Chinese rule over the region.

Reeves’s role in the Tibet House fundraiser came to light shortly after his latest film “The Matrix: Resurrections” debuted in Chinese cinemas. Chinese nationalists, however, were enraged by Reeves’s participation in this fundraiser and vowed to boycott the film after taking to government-sanctioned social media sites to lob insults at the actor.

In response to what the Chinese government perceived as Reeves snubbing China, last Monday China’s major streaming companies removed the “vast majority” of his filmography from their catalogs and “wiped search results related to his name in Chinese.”

When users ran searches for “Keanu Reeves,” which in translates to “Jinu Liweisi” on the streaming platform iQiyi, users are told: “Sorry, no results related to ‘Keanu Reeves’ were found. Due to relevant laws, regulations and policies, some results are not shown.”

Beloved movies like “The Matrix” trilogy and “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” as well as some of Keanu’s romantic movies like “Something’s Gotta Give” and “The Lake House” have been removed from Chinese streaming platforms.

Alex Yu, a researcher at the U.S.-based China Digital Times, said, “It’s a curious case that’s worth following. We tend to think of the censorship machine in China as this really coordinated monster, but the fact that we’re seeing these conflicting signals [between the online and theatrical markets] suggest that some of these measures come from different places.”

He added, “Why all of a sudden did they decide to take this measure at this exact moment?”

Reeves un-personing by Chinese censors adds him to the ever-growing list of celebrities who are unwelcome in China after expressing support for Tibet. This list includes Richard Gere, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, and, until recently, Brad Pitt.

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