China: Censors vs. video, culture, innovation, humor, pretty much the entire Chinese blogsphere

Late last month a seemingly important stage was reached in the maturation process of China's blogsphere with the launch of, a new website bringing together—a substantial and pertinent alternative to's celebrity blogs—the leading liberal and intelligent bloggers around. Earlier this week it was shut down pending the site's registration with the relevant authorities.

Around the same time, China's State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) announced a new set of regulations aimed at strictly controlling video posted online which, if observed, will effectively cripple the latest trend in the Chinese blogsphere, the creation and posting of video spoofs of cultural, historical and social images. The decision seems to have pitted SARFT against the masses, and most of the big blogging names around—many of which could be found on Bullog as well as having wicked senses of humor—have posted on SARFT this week.

Massage Milk/Wang Xiaofeng:


Furong Jiejie is more dangerous than weight loss products?


Been out in the country this past while, so haven't been watching television at night. Most of them are local channels and when I'm bored I'll watch one of the crappy shows. But what ticks me off are the commercials stuck in the middle of the shows, coming in twenty minute stretches. Shopping commercials, and they keep repeating over and over. I change to another channel, but it's all still shopping commercials.
I checked it out, and those breast enlargement commercials are gone, replaced now by even more sketchy shopping commercials. SARFT, in its hasty ban, eliminated some of the shopping commercials, for the very simple reason that those products were fraudulent. Although this new batch of television shopping commercials aren't for products on the previous black list, I still think these products are just as sketchy. A lot of the products featured don't have the effects as advertized, any idiot can see that. These were made after the fact. If one analyzes the SARFT ban, it's actually not hard to see that while they don't want to beat television shopping commercials to death, they also want to give viewers some peace. That's why they've worked out such a nondescript ban. In other words, where once they sold weight-loss formulas, now they can sell other fake things on television.


And, the weirdest part is that this time the ban was issued directly by SARFT. As a state administrative department, when it forbids the promotion of certain products on television, it in effect implies that promotion of this product cannot appear in any media within China. Although SARFT directly oversees broadcast television, this ban has in fact already become a national standard. But this time the ban does not include newspapers, magazines, the internet or other such media, leaving one wondering. One specialty of this country of ours, when it wants to take something out, it does it very thoroughly. Like Furong Jiejie, for example. When she was at the height of her fame, with just one order, no media were allowed to even mention her. From the significance of this we can come to the conclusion that Furong Jiejie is a bigger threat to society than those counterfeit and cheap products are. Actually, when I read the newspaper, magazines or the internet, I can see that advertisements for those products found on the black list still haven't stopped. Now that it's already been shown how dangerous these products are, why are they still allowed in other media?

IT blogger Keso [zh]


Whenever I think of the word SARFT, it always seems to be attached to ‘ban’. Or, SARFT is a ban, and bans are SARFT, one and the same. Fang Jun once made a list. In just two short months, SARFT released five or six bans, impressive in the way that officials are; breath-taking, stunning, bossy her, with a touch that turns gold to stone. Fang Jun says, “China's most conservative department, judging from recent events, is pretty much SARFT.” I feel that this word conservative doesn't even come close to describing this department's authority and bearing. As mother company for an even bigger gang of companies, it should be said that SARFT looks after its offspring with the utmost care, love and then some. Bans, bans are when outsiders move your cheese; bans are when other consider the possibility of new cheese a priority. More so, all bans, without exception, are formed and appear with the most righteous of morals. SARFT, it's nothing more than a morality administration.

Ten Years of Chopping Timber [zh]


In 2006 a batch of video short spoofs arose like bamboo shoots following rain, and the relevant departments rushed to issue statements of intent to increase supervision. Some experts and scholars have also emphasized that spoofs must abide by the law, cannot resort to personal attacks. This all might as well not have been said. In a state ruled by law, in a harmonious society, nothing you do can ever break the law. Not being able to infringe upon others’ and public rights and interests is just common sense. As a cultural phenomenon, things like spoofs are not inherently in violation of the law, just like driving does not naturally create accidents. Traffic cops can only punish infractions. Similarly, whether spoofs are illegal or not requires an analysis of the work in question. Our people have a centuries-old tradition of mockery and satire. In The Book of Songs, the ordinary folk wrote a song which whispered of the king's ‘grasping at ashes’ [incest] scandal, probably one of the earliest signs of spoof mentality seen in a work of literature. Bai Juyi‘s Song of Unending Sorrow, if you look carefully, is also another kind of parody. He says, “the Chinese emperor puts aside too much time for his sex life, neglects state affairs, leading to the downfall of the nation,” speaking directly to the Tang Dynasty Emperor Ming and Yang Yuhuan affair…[snip]

Han Han, voice of post-80s Chinese youth [zh]


Recently, one of the biggest internet parodies in history has occured, that of the images of SARFT's excuses for heroes being tarnished. They've issued a ban on parodies, and will begin administering online video. What will the outcome of that be? Under SARFT's administration, I saw a commercial on television several years ago, which showed a down-on-his-luck senior citizen. Someone asked, ‘what's up with you?’ The old guy said, I've got cancer. The ticket-seller on the bus said, ‘that's okay, a few years ago I also had cancer; got cured at that hospital just up ahead, and now I'm okay. The driver said, ‘yeah, my cancer was also cured there. Then one-by-one the bus passengers said ‘we all had our cancer cured there.’
Politics talk not allowed, within three days your breasts can grow as big as your head, in a month you can grow ten centimeters, as fast as an animal, have all your zits gone in just ten hours, foreign cartoons not allowed to show during prime viewing time, etc., all are the masterpieces of SARFT's management. Is this what internet video will look like from now on? Seems that from now on video shorts will only increase breast size.


Now internet spoofs are prohibited. Actually, no matter if it's internet spoof or dirty talk, the whole world is the same, only they never made an issue out of it. Only here is it not okay. What people once never paid much attention to, because of certain interests, has been blown out of proportion. Just like when MTV wanted to set up a song bank, but unhealthy songs can't be made into music videos. I have a question: what exactly are unhealthy songs? Could you first come up with a definition? Like if they contain a certain word, or a certain image, would then be called unhealthy. Filming a music video is expensive, so don't wait until the video is shot and ready and then come along and suddenly say this song is unhealthy, just because there appears within a set of knives. Another question is, if you say I'm unhealthy, but I say I'm fine, will there be a hearing? If there is, will all the witnesses be invited by you? If not, will I be able to file a lawsuit and take this to the courts and get them to say I'm healthy? I'll always have the right to maintain that I'm healthy. I also must me made known according to which law I'll be classfied as unhealthy. In the case that I lose the lawsuit, I want to hear the judge say loud and clear, ‘this court has reached a verdict, you are unhealthy.’ Then I'll know, and I'll go back to SARFT, ask where that guy on the bus got his cancer cured, and go cure myself.
For so many years, Chinese films have only been regressing, and not improving. Surely this isn't the fault of the filmmakers. Filming a movie in China is quite cruel; the money earned doesn't come close to public-private collusion in the real estate market and the many borderline policies they come out with; if you're not time, you can be cast as a criminal if you're not careful. And if you want to make a short piece, all of the television stations’ time has been given to breast enlargement and fake medicines. The only place left to put it is on the internet. In the happy-go-lucky world of the internet, there weren't that many people watching video shorts to begin with, but it couldn't be more blown out of proportion than it is now. Quite despairing. At least for now, when articles are posted on the internet, examination is not needed from the news and publishing authority. I still truly hope that SARFT, in expanding its management, will at the same time take development into consideration. Just like raising a dog, you can't lock it away just to stop it from biting people. You might as well feed it. When you let the dog out, it probably won't bite anyone. But if you lock it away for good, and don't feed it, then most likely the only thing it will be thinking about is biting people.

Wen Yunchao, author of authoritative weekly web news stories [zh]


Preventing online ‘spoofs’ from becoming a fad
August 10, Guangming Daily held a ‘Preventing Online Spoofs From Becoming a Fad Experts Discussion Meeting’ regarding the launching of a popular opinion offensive via online spoofs. During the meeting, State Council Information Office Internet Department Deputy Director General Peng Bo said ‘spoofs’ meddle with people's—especially youth's—thinking, meddle with the mainstream values many people in society obey, including honor and disgrace, right and wrong, as well as meddle with the current moral bottom line, leaving a vast number of netizens and the masses with a widespread discontent, feeling obliged to oppose Peng. In response to Peng's criticism, netizens said that if a classic work gets messed up through being ‘spoofed’, then this work couldn't have been so classic to begin with. They also had the suggestion that any work should be open to public criticism, that ‘spoofs’ are also another means for public criticism.


SARFT yearns to supervise and oversee internet video
According to media reports, SARFT is currently working out new management guidelines for internet video, to be released in August or September which will attack and clean up websites that spread video on the internet but which have not received a license. According to the reports, if an individual wants to spread video content, s/he also needs to be in possession of a license to do so. The internet and media almost all have a slightly oppositional voice in regards to the announcement, criticizing it saying that podcasting is an individual's right, and that this right cannot be deprived just because of the existence of ‘spoofs’. Some criticisms also point out that SARFT is actively launching an attack in dealing with online video with the goal of struggling with the Ministry for Information Industries (MII) over jurisdiction in managing online video. Most people feel the internet should remain under MII's management.

MindMeters columnist Fang Jun: [zh]


Digital Televition Standards: What Kind of Future?


There's a relatively straightforward explanation for China's digital television standards: on August 22, SARFT Deputy Director Zhang Haitao said, “national standards for digital terrestrial television transmission are about to be put into effect. Following the release of the standards, broadcast television systems across the country will be forced to adhere to national standards within a year.” SARFT Vice-President and engineer Du Baichuan says, “the standards about to be released are not suggested standards, but obligatory standards, reminding people within the industry not to make any pointless investments beforehand.” But, SARFT's ambitious attempt to control digital television standards will bring about what kind of future?


As for the gambling between digital television standards and cross-China digital terrestrial television, I still need to gather more information to understand the situation better. But as for what kind of standards will hasten the spread, looking at the history of telecom and internet standards, we are able to gain some revelations. A key character in influencing internet public policy, renowned legal professor Lawrence Lessig has some very pertinent analysis in his book The Future of Ideas. His basic stance is that only a free and ‘public resource’ internet will prosper. He defines a free and public resource as such: “any resource, available to anyone, not requiring anyone's permission, or with granting of any necessary permission being neutral, only then would said resource be free. The prosperity of internet applications, its basic structure, is based upon ‘end-to-end’. Or, “letting the customer end take part in the opening up and innovation of internet applications, and keeping the basic nature of the internet relatively simple.” “Due to that the design of the internet has created a neutral…platform, refrain from increasing control over the internet is the best option of roads in the quest for innovation.”

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