China Tightens Censorship

The Chinese government is ratcheting up the restrictions on online motion picture content. 

While the Chinese have historically been willing to regulate broadcast TV deemed too provocative (e.g., Fan Bing Bing's lavishly-produced Tang dynasty costume drama, The Empress of China, disappeared for a couple of weeks at the end of 2014 - apparently so that shots of cleavage could be panned and scanned for modesty's sake) the latest moves have tightened control over what had been a more freewheeling space for online motion pictures. 

The latest moves against webseries began in January of 2016, when a show involving a time-traveling man who became a woman and another popular webseries involving grave robbing disappeared from the Chinese internet (Western online video sites like YouTube are not available in China).

Then, on February 22, 2016,  a very popular 15-episode webseries about love between two teenage boys, Addiction (also known as Heroin - that's episode 8 above, which is still available in the West via YouTube), disappeared from the Chinese site The show's heavily trafficked website on is now a broken link. 

As reported in The Nation on February 24th, while there was no official explanation about where Addiction had gone, Chinese "[i]nternet users speculated that its gay themes and sexually explicit dialogue might be the cause [of its disappearance]."

Then, at the Chinese television industry's annual conference on Feb. 27th of 2016,  the Chinese government officially issued new General Rule on TV Productions (電視劇製作通則), which characterize homosexuality, extramarital affairs, one night stands and underage relationships as “unusual sexuality” that cannot be a part of TV content. These new censorship rules are targeted at content that the Chinese authorities claim will “exaggerate the dark side of society.” 

And the rules quite pointedly apply to the internet too. Luo Jianhui of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) told that online dramas will be treated the same as “offline” TV dramas: "罗建辉表示,对于网络剧具体管理思路和措施在研究中,将加强网络剧全流程管理 ,线上线下统一审核标准,严格提高审看人员水平,严肃确认网站主管人员责任,重点网络剧提前介入,和电视剧司电影局共同联动,使得线上线下标准一致,电视台不能播的,网络就不能播."

The moves in mainland China are in stark contrast to Taiwan's internet - where YouTube is as accessible as it is in Tulsa - and big corporations are experimenting with ads like the "coming out" story below: 

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