TV regulators in China have called on broadcasters to stop showing “sissy men and other abnormal esthetics” on TV as part of an effort to clean up airwaves and enforce official morality, using an offensive slang term for effeminate men — “niang pao” meaning “girlie guns.”
The onslaught reflects official concern in the communist government that Chinese pop stars, influenced by the sleek, fashionable look of some South Korean K-pop singers and actors and Japanese artists are failing to encourage China’s young men to be masculine enough.
President Xi Jinping has on several occasions called for a “national rejuvenation” in China with tighter Communist Party control of business, education, culture and religion.
Companies and the public have faced increasing pressure to align with this narrowing vision that the government is selling of a more powerful China and healthier society
The Chinese regulator said broadcasters should avoid promoting “vulgar internet celebrities” and admiration of wealth and celebrity. Instead, programs should “vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture.”
The government added that broadcasters should also avoid performers who “violate public order” or have “lost morality.” Programs about the children of celebrities are also banned.
In the wake of the ban, the microblogging platform Weibo Corp suspended thousands of accounts for fan clubs and entertainment news, while a popular actress, Zhao Wei, disappeared from streaming platforms without explanation.
Zhao’s name has since been removed from credits of movies and TV programs.
Another actress, Zheng Shuang, was fined 299 million yuan ($46 million) last week on tax evasion charges. It was considered a warning to celebrities to be positive role models.
Xi’s government has also been tightening control over Chinese internet industries after it launched anti-monopoly, data security and other enforcement actions. Targeted companies included games and social media provider Tencent Holding and e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. The ruling party worries these companies are too big and independent.
Alibaba founder and CEO Jack Ma faced antitrust scrutiny from the Chinese government over his $456.57 billion-market-cap company. Ma hasn’t been seen since the beginning of 2021 and is rumored to be in hiding.
The Chinese government has reduced children’s access to online games. New rules limit anyone under 18 years old to three hours per week of online games and prohibit the playing of online games on school days.
Game developers are also required to submit new titles for government approval before they are released. Officials have called on them to add nationalistic themes.