What you need to know
China’s media policy has begun tightening after Xi Jinping’s announcement of centralizing communication platforms. Popular Chinese LGBT online television dramas have also been removed due to their content not passing the new regulations.
Translated and compiled by Yuan-ling Liang
Chinese drama series, “Addiction” and " Girls Love,” have been popular among the Chinese audience with storylines depicting same-sex relationships. With over tens of thousands of viewers, the online dramas are considered the breakpoint in China’s conservative culture under the rule of the Communist party.
However, in early March, the Chinese government removed “Addicted” from the major streaming websites in China, stating that according to the new regulation, content including “exaggerations of the dark sides of the society” should be banned. Multi-sexuality relationships, sexual violence or assault are all considered “unhealthy” for the audience and therefore are illegal.
The new regulation not only restricts the contents of “abnormal” sexual behaviors, but also bans the display of various “religious beliefs,” “methods inducing criminals,” or even “freaky appearances of the characters.”
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) inform the producers that they would keep an eye on both online and offline dramas to ensure the policy is fully implemented, and that if producers violate the rules, their dramas would be removed under close monitoring.
The move has angered activists for LGBT rights in China. Some Chinese netizens have even commented on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, teasing the government by saying, “The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is coming back!”
China tightens control over the entire media industry
TV drama is not the only media field the Chinese government is applying their restrictions to.
On February 22, the China Central Television made an announcement reflecting Xi Jinping’s new media policy saying, “The Chinese news media exists to serve as a propaganda tool for the Communist Party, and it must pledge its fealty to Mr. Xi.”
The New York Times reports, according to Xi’s lecture quoted by Xinhua News Agency, the major media companies owned by the Chinese government should all do their best to “represent the Communist Party’s will and their ideology to authorize the party’s rule.”
In addition, without informing the government beforehand, foreign media that are not 100% possessed by the Chinese bureau are also restricted from publishing anything online. The policy takes effect on March 10 and is expected to affect several companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and Apple.
David Bandurski, editor of the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong, depicts Xi’s moves as the Chinese leader saying, “We own you, we run you, we tell you how things work.”
Zhang Li-fan, a Chinese writer and scholar, also says that he regards Xi’s behavior as “a sense of insecurity” in response to the gradually opening society.
Edited by Olivia Yang
“China bans depictions of gay people on television" (The Guardian)
“China Tightens Censorship of Online Dramas" (Chinese Film Insider)
“Xi Jinping’s News Alert: Chinese Media Must Serve the Party" (The New York Times)