To coincide with the Communist Party’s 100th anniversary and to restrict media focus on related propaganda, the Ministry of Propaganda has tightened restrictions on the content of private communications, and after several Chinese online forums were recently shut down, literary and artistic performances have also been scrutinized. Beijing authorities recently investigated the first case of a talk show company for “content violations” and imposed a fine of 50,000 yuan.
The Ministry of Propaganda issued a notice last week that all public performances not related to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Party would be cancelled from May, followed by a complete overhaul of non-political content on the Internet. Following the massive blocking of the Kedi forum Cat’s Eye View and the military forum, the wind of suspension is spreading to performance companies. According to the People’s Daily Online this week, on April 25, the Beijing Municipal Cultural Market Comprehensive Law Enforcement Team imposed an administrative penalty of RMB 50,000 yuan on a Beijing-based company for organizing a talk show with prohibited content in accordance with the “Regulations on the Administration of Business Performance” and other regulations. The authorities stressed the need to “strictly abide by the relevant national laws and regulations, and maintain the ideological and cultural security of the capital city” as the gatekeeper.
The case aroused heated debate among netizens. Some netizens accused the authorities of increasingly strict control over public opinion. Su Qiang, a Tianjin scholar, told Radio Free Asia this Thursday (29) that the current situation of freedom of expression is getting worse.
“Every one of them is subject to more or less restrictions, for example, forums like Cat Eye Watch, which has been around for more than two decades, have been shut down, forms of performance like talk shows, which are popular among people, have been rectified, and even the sale of books on the Internet has been censored. We can see that after more than thirty years of reform and opening up, the trend in China is now one of reverse reform and opening up.”
Talk shows often alarm authorities with their need to criticize current problems
Stand-up comedy shows have gained a following among Chinese audiences for their witty, satirical content with a pinch of salt, and years ago, Chinese TV stations have shut down popular shows such as Jin Xing’s talk show and Zhou Libo’s talk show, which were banned from mainstream media, and online video talk shows came into being. The authorities’ explanation for the investigation and punishment of the first talk show case in Beijing was to “maintain the height of the capital’s ideology and cultural security, strengthen the control of the content of the show, and improve the standard of performance and live restraint of the actors”.
At the same time, the Internet is dancing the “loyalty dance” of the Cultural Revolution, vigorously proclaiming the so-called Yan’an spirit. In response, Su Qiang said.
“It’s a desire to go back to the Cultural Revolution, to the direction of North Korea. In fact, there are many people who are worried and angry about this situation, both in the Chinese officialdom and in the civil and academic circles.”
Mr. Qin, a scholar from Gansu, believes that by censoring talk show companies, the Beijing authorities have set a precedent of the worst kind.
“Politicizing all these areas does not surprise me. China in recent decades, under Jiang Zemin, under Hu Jintao, she still has a certain veil of shame, China wants to engage and collide with the world and more or less suffer some bottom line. Although they are regressive in terms of human rights, but not as serious as today.”
Turning back the clock seventy years to indoctrinate young people in red drama
Mr. Qin said that statements permitted in the 1990s and early 2000s have become off-limits today. He cites the following example.
“At that time there was still some space in cyberspace, in terms of literary and artistic creation. On the Internet, you could see articles by Liu Xiaobo, Ouyang Yi, Wang Yi, Yu Jie, and other Chinese intellectuals who criticized current problems. The suppression of their speech is not that serious yet. But now you see the people, including companies, as long as there is pioneering for culture, the black hand will reach in.”
This year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, and literature and public opinion have become the main battleground for the party’s centennial. China’s young people have become the main target of the “Party history and national history education”. According to public opinion, the authorities are uncomfortable with young people watching modern dramas and talk shows, so they are trying to guide them to watch red dramas, such as the recent anti-Japanese drama “Little Soldier Zhang Ga” and “Battle of the Tunnels”. Some netizens mocked, “This is the authorities’ attempt to turn back the clock 70 years.”