China’s latest Internet censorship regulations are causing significant worry among the country’s filmmakers, bloggers, and educators. June has seen a crackdown on celebrity gossip sites, video content, and online streaming to restrict ‘inappropriate content’.
However, an industry association circulated new regulations on Friday that may have an even larger impact. With immediate effect, at least two auditors will have to check all video content to make sure they align with socialist values.
The regulations include all genres, including documentaries, films, animation, and sports. According to the China Netcasting Services Association, prohibited content includes depictions of homosexuality, drug addiction, and more.
Impossible to Enforce
Vocal opposition has appeared online since the announcement, with arguments that it will severely hamper creativity. Such broad limitations could apply to thousands of videos, limiting innovation and dissuading creators.
This will also make it very hard to enforce. The large volume of videos posted online would require a huge workforce to regulate, and could effect classic works such as Shakespeare. Creators are already thinking of ways to circumvent the censorship, such as euphemisms and the avoidance of specific keywords.
Some argue that the tightening of regulations discourages indie filmmakers’ only outlet.
“Many filmmakers know they could never get their film approved for cinemas, and so put them online,” said Fan Popo, a gay activist and film director, to Reuters.
Platforms have already seen the effects, with advertisers pulling from websites and shares in the popular blogging site Weibo Corp falling by close to 10%. Others say that it’s part of Xi’s plans to reduce opposition.
“This is a return to ideology,” said Qiao Mu, a popular opposer of censorship in Beijing. “To the Party, entertainment will make people lose their revolutionary spirit.”