Chinese director Chen Kaige, whose movie "The Promise" allegedly caused environmental damage to a pristine Himalayan lakeside during shooting, has been nominated for the country's "Green Chinese" award.
In May, producers of the 35-million-dollar film were fined 90,000 yuan (11,250 dollars) for destroying vegetation near Bigu Lake in Shangri-la county in China's southwest Yunnan province, according to the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).
The "Green Chinese" annual award is co-sponsored by seven government departments and supported by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), which selects five to ten Chinese who have made great contribution to protecting the environment.
After the award's organizing committee announced a list of 253 nominations, which included Chen and Chinese television director Zhang Jizhong, Chinese Internet users posted furious comments on-line.
Many described it as an outrageous irony in China's efforts to protect the environment. "How can Chen be nominated? If a bad example like him can be nominated, then traitors should be nominated as heroes in the same sense," read one comment on Netease.com.
The publication of the list gave no reasons for the nominations.
"Sometimes a negative example can serve as a warning," said Wang Panpu, deputy director of the committee, when asked whether Chen's nomination contradicted the objectives of the award.
Chen, who picked up an Oscar nomination for directing "Farewell, My Concubine", and Zhang are both on the list of award nominees approved by the committee and published on the SEPA's website.
A shortlist of 24 nominees will be published on Nov. 25 and the winners will be announced on Dec. 2 after reviews by the committee, surveys and Internet votes.