China's Netcasting Services Association has issued a list of 100 topics local netizens must not include in short videos posted online.
The list, officially the "Online Short Video Content Review Standard Rules (2021)", includes predictable prohibitions on mocking China's leadership, or suggesting that history did not unfurl precisely as the Chinese Communist Party's textbooks describe.
But the regs also add some new red lines – among them a ban on using clips from TV shows. Clips of shows not permitted to be shown in China are also forbidden.
So is depiction of unconventional marriages. Sex is out, and so are fig leaves, or fig-leaf sized token garments that almost cover body parts likely to be depicted during sex.
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Discussions of extreme nationalistic politics or fascism are barred, as is anything that challenges the doctrines of Socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Cryptocurrency also makes the list, with vids that promote mining it, trading it, or speculating on its values now forbidden.
Other banned themes include depiction of:
- Drug use, and the effects of having taken drugs;
- Gambling machines;
- Organised crime activities and gangs;
- Glorification or glamorisation of crime;
- Violence or mental abuse.
Lying about charitable donations has also made the naughty list. Also earning a red line is any discussion comparing religions, if it could provoke sectarianism.
The last item on the list translates as "Other violation of laws, regulations and social public order and good customs" – which probably covers all of the above, and much more.
The Register has sought to understand how China's citizens respond to rules of this sort, since they greatly restrict self-expression. We understand they do so stoically – with occasional outbursts like puns on alpacas – because flouting the rules can reduce access to jobs, education, and even access to high-speed internet.
Sanctions also await platforms that host vids deemed inappropriate. The Register expects it won't be long before China's Cyberspace Administration starts scolding, then fining, the likes of Tencent, Douyin, and Weibo for vids that don't comply with the new rules.
Those companies will apologise and promise to do better. Just like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. ®