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People's Republic of China - Cyberspace

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s insistence on inserting its political ideology into every area of activity would make future economic growth much harder. The CCP system isn't conducive to independent innovation. They emphasize unity, synchronization and obedience when it comes to people's thinking.

US internet services company Yahoo said on 02 November 2021 it had pulled out of mainland China, becoming the latest tech firm to withdraw as a crackdown by Beijing on the industry gathers pace. The move came just days after American gaming giant Epic said it will shut its popular game "Fortnite" following the imposition of strict curbs on the world's biggest gaming market. Yahoo China was launched in 1999, when the company was among the world's most important internet firms. Yahoo's presence in the country has shrunk in recent years, with Yahoo shutting down its Chinese mail service in 2013. Microsoft in October 2021 announced the closure of its career-oriented social network LinkedIn. Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010, refusing Beijing's requirement to censor search results. Reports in 2018 of a plan by Google executives to explore reopening a site in China sparked a backlash from rights groups and Google employees warning that a censored search engine would set a "dangerous precedent".

China's propaganda ministry and media regulators on 09 September 2021 hauled in representatives of Tencent, NetEase, and other technology giants, ordering them to fully implement recent restrictions on online gaming for underage players. The meetings sparked sharp falls in technology share prices. The Hang Seng index fell by 2.3 percent at day's close to 25,716.00, the biggest one-day percentage drop since July 27, while the China Enterprises Index lost 2.8 percent.

The heads of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s central propaganda department and the General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) told the companies they would be expected to comply fully with a slew of recent regulations on the technology sector, including the minor gaming ban during weekdays and restrictions on "obscenity," "gore," "terror," "feminized men," and "overblown aesthetics" in game content. "All gaming companies have to strictly enforce the orders of the notice and thoroughly implement the play-time restrictions on minors when they are providing online games to them," the departments said. "Obscene and violent content and those breeding unhealthy tendencies, such as money-worship and effeminacy, should be removed," it said.

In September, scores of Chinese video game makers including Tencent vowed to better police their products for "politically harmful" content and enforce curbs on underage players, as they looked to fall in line with government demands. The 213 gaming firms promised in a joint statement to ban content that was "politically harmful, historically nihilistic, dirty and pornographic, bloody and terrifying".

The government banned under-18s in August 2021 from playing more than three hours' of online video games in any week, limiting their sessions to Fridays, weekends, and vacation days, in a bid to fight back against gaming addiction, which the CCP views as "spiritual opium."

Chinese regulators have ordered several tech giants to "rectify" their business models amid an ongoing crackdown on the private technology sector. Officials from the Ministry of Transport, the Cyberspace Administration of China, and the State Administration of Market Supervision, met with managers from ride-sharing app Didi Chuxing, the food delivery app Meituan, and nine other transportation and travel firms on 01 September 2021 and ordered them to clean up their act. They were warned not to use "vicious" competition or disorderly expansion or to pass on operation risks to gig-economy workers like drivers.

China's internet regulator cracked down on online celebrity and fan club culture. "Cancel all star artist lists along with all ranking lists involving celebrities," the Cyberspace Administration said in a directive posted to its official website on Friday. A popular actress had all of her work removed from public view after being designated an "inferior artist."

"The addition of new or disguised lists of personalities, or their related products or functions is forbidden." Only rankings of movies and TV shows may remain, but with no stars mentioned, while the rankings should give less weight to online likes and comments and more to "professional evaluation," it said, adding that fans should not be provided with buttons to boost the rankings of their favorite celebrities.

Celebrity agents should also better moderate the behavior of fan club social media groups and accounts, and shut them down fan club if flame wars, rumor-mongering and personal abuse persist, the administration said. Fans shouldn't be ranked according to how much merchandise they have bought, and any other activities designed to stimulate fan consumption should be stopped, it said.

The directive came as actresses Vicki Zhao and Zheng Shuang were barred from social media sites, which deleted any content linked to the pair. Zheng was fined nearly 300 million yuan (U.S.$ 46 million) for tax evasion and barred from appearing on entertainment shows. Meanwhile, Zhao, who is a brand ambassador for Fendi, has had her name removed from major entertainment platforms, and her account on Weibo shut down. Zhao, who has courted controversy by wearing a wartime Japanese flag as a dress, has been designated an "inferior artist" by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

Actress Fan Bingbing, who disappeared from public view for nearly three months, only to resurface with a public apology and a U.S.$130 million fine for tax evasion, was also among them, as was Canadian rapper and K-pop artist Kris Wu, who was recently arrested on suspicion of rape.

An entertainment industry insider who gave only a surname, Yao, said the ban on Zhao could be linked to the ongoing official probe into Alibaba. "This is the third day that they have removed all of her work from public view," Yao said. "If it was just to do with lack of patriotism, her public affinity for Japan, or tax evasion, the authorities would have said that publicly."

"But there are now reports that it's something to do with Jack Ma and Alibaba, as well as huge political upheavals going down in [the eastern province of] Zhejiang," she said. "Personally, I think it's something to do with Alibaba's operations down in Zhejiang."

"[Zhao] has shown that she considers herself spiritually Japanese before, for example, when she wore the Japanese military flag," Yao said. "But I think this probably has more to do with her ties to Alibaba." Zhao and her businessman husband Huang Youlong were fined and barred from trading on the stockmarket in 2017 for financial activities linked to anime producer Zhejiang Wanjia, a company sources said has ties to the Zhejiang government.

The market reacted to the company's announcement on Dec. 27 that year that Zhao, a billionaire known for her investing prowess, had purchased a stake. Zhao's apparent ties to Alibaba Group Holding Executive Chairman Jack Ma also fueled speculative buying. Current affairs commentator Bi Xin said Zhao could have run afoul of someone powerful within the CCP establishment. "She could be entwined in the vested interests of certain people, as she has close ties with some government officials," Bi said. "They are using state power to suppress an individual, so as to maintain stability within the party."

China's internet regulators are continuing to crack down on the country's top tech companies, pulling the plug on a planned U.S.$35 billion initial public offering (IPO) of shares in Alibaba founder Jack Ma's financial affiliate Ant Group.

Chinese authorities on 02 September 2021 enhanced management of entertainment programs and related personnel, calling for boycotts against individuals with records of illegal or immoral behaviors, as well as sky-high payments for stars and abnormal appreciation of niangpao, or feminine men. Experts said the unprecedented forceful actions of the cyberspace, TV and culture authorities targeting the entertainment industry showed the country's firm determination to clean up chaos in the sector.

"The moves not only target chaos on the surface, but the gray industrial chain and capital behind the chaos. In other words, it is not only aimed at rectifying platforms, agencies or fanquan (fan circle), but radically reforming the industry," Shi Wenxue, a Beijing-based entertainment industry observer, told the Global Times. Individuals with a wrong political stance, and those who go against the country and the Communist Party of China, should not be employed by the industry. The same goes for those who violate Chinese laws or social morality, read a notice released by the Chinese National Radio and Television Administration.

The administration also banned programs from raising idols or employing stars' children. Setting up lists to encourage fans to purchase items or pay member fees to support their idols, which exaggerates the fan circle chaos, is also prohibited. According to a statement by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the department has launched a special campaign against problems and chaos in the entertainment industry.

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Page last modified: 04-11-2021 18:39:49 ZULU